By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- Steve Nicol walked into his postgame press conference, and grabbed a seat in the front row, right leg crossed, and left arm resting on the back of the chair next to him.
It was as if to say, "You guys will probably have more answers than me."
The New England Revolution coach eventually made his way up to the podium, and gave his analysis of Saturday night's 1-1 draw with the expansion Portland Timbers at Gillette Stadium.
From the outside, it would seem that the Revs would be happy with their fifth point in three games to begin the regular season with a big fat zero in the loss column.
But take a stroll through the New England locker room after Saturday's draw, and you'll find nothing but disappointment, even from rookie Stephen McCarthy, who scored his first career goal in the 22nd minute, putting the Revolution up 1-0.
"It feels good, but it's bittersweet, since we kind of didn't play too great," said McCarthy after the draw.
The Revs were flat, even before McCarthy's low blast from the top of the box beat Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson after hitting him in the hands. And as Nicol pointed out several times after the game, their passing was the biggest issue on Saturday night.
"The bottom line is, we didn't pass the ball well," said Nicol. "It didn't matter who we played tonight. We didn't pass the ball well at all, all night. And when that happens, you'll really struggle. And we did.
"It certainly had nothing to do with how we prepared," added Nicol. "We had a good week . . . But yet, tonight we can't do it. So it probably is about mental stuff, which happens. But at the same time, the bottom line is, we're disappointed. We wanted three points at home, not one. But considering how things went, we did pick something up, so we should be grateful for that."
Grateful, yes. But pleased, absolutely not. And nobody in the Revolution locker room will tell you, but the fact that this draw came against a winless expansion team, is unacceptable.
The disappointment didn't stem from a draw "at home" or a "lack of three points." It came from a draw against a winless, expansion Timbers club that just so happened to be at home, resulting in only one point.
How else would you describe the team's joy after a draw in Los Angeles to open the season. Sure, getting that point on the road had something to do with their happiness. But because it was a draw against one of the league's top teams, it was a solid point.
A point against one of the league's worst teams, is anything but.
Portland forced a point out of the match by tying things up at 1-1 in the 38th minute, when Jack Jewsbury put a low shot to the far, right side of the net, from just outside the box.
Timbers midfielder Jeremy Hall picked up a loose ball at the top of the box, and tapped it over to a wide open Jewsbury, who seemingly caught Revs defenders flat-footed.
"If you go right back to the source, where the goal came from, we gave the ball away too easily," said Nicol on Portland's game-tying score. "You encourage people like Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph to get into the penalty box when he can. And when he does, when you give the ball away so cheaply, then it means people are out of position, because guys are making runs for the guy on the ball. And if he gives the ball away, then you're in trouble.
"It was a rotten goal. It wasn't like we got cut up. It was just half a leg short here, and half a leg short there. It was just a horrible goal. I can't sum it up again."
Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan said after the game that he hopes those two points lost don't come back to "bite them in the butt" come playoff time. And considering those two points lost came at the hands of a team that only played two previous MLS games together before Saturday night, that would be a devastating way to miss out on the postseason for the second straight year.
"We're just disappointed all around," said Nicol. "I mean, we did very few good things tonight. I guess, if you're not on your game and you pick up points, then you should be happy. But obviously, we want all three points. We don't want one point."
And they don't want just one point while playing the lowly Timbers.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.