New England Soccer Today

Deja vu all over again

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the second time in four days, the New England Revolution conceded a two-goal lead to settle for a 2-2 draw, this time against the conference-leading Columbus Crew Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

Pat Phelan scored in the 2nd minute, while Shalrie Joseph clinched a 56th minute penalty to seize a two-goal edge against the Crew. However, Columbus dug out of the hole thanks to a Steven Lenhart goal in the 62nd minute and an 80th minute penalty from Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Shalrie Joseph argues in vain against Paul Ward's penalty call. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

“We got a two-nothing lead and we have to be better at protecting the lead,” said Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph. “So many times in the game we just started to stick back a little bit and absorb pressure and we shouldn’t have done that. That cost us tonight.”

The Revolution lead arrived early, much to the delight of the home crowd. Marko Perovic sent a free kick into a scrum of players from which Phelan freed himself to redirect the ball past a bewildered Will Hesmer.

“I was just unmarked, and it was a great ball,” said Phelan. “I just had to get my foot on it and not mess it up.”

Shocked to be down a score so soon, the Crew immediately countered with a set of dangerous attacks. Lenhart threatened with a shot in the fifth minute, while Eddie Gaven fired a ball that skipped wide of the far post two minutes later.

Shortly after Gaven’s bid, the Crew securely encamped themselves inside the Revolution end, methodically moving the ball into space, hoping to find a few holes in the defense.

Their persistence nearly paid off when Schelotto launched a free kick from 35 yards that Phelan, pinned deep in his own end, nearly snuck into his own net in the 41st minute.

Columbus resumed their midfield dominance during the second frame. However, the Revolution took advantage of the few chances they were afforded.

One such chance arrived in the 55th minute. On a counterattack, Perovic took a Kenny Mansally pass and sent it back to an oncoming Ilija Stolica inside the box. But the late pass forced the Serbian striker to fight off Andy Iro and Frankie Hejduk before Iro sawed down Stolica and a penalty was duly awarded to the Revolution.

A minute later, Joseph ran up to the spot and struck it through as the Revolution boasted a two-goal lead over their conference nemesis before the hour.

But the game was not over. Far from it.

Six minutes after Joseph’s tally, the Crew finally found a goal when Shaun Francis sent on cross right on the doorstep, where Lenhart pounced on it and put it through in the 62nd minute.

Matt Reis looks on as the Revs' lead evaporates. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

“The first goal was a bad goal,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol. “Number one we don’t close the ball, and then we don’t attack the cross.”

Instead of clamping down on defense, the Revolution allowed the Crew far too much operating room. With Schelotto roaming in the midfield, Columbus was keen to clinch the equalizer.

“I just think we gave them way too much space, and we gave them way too much time on the ball,” said Joseph. “I think when you do that with a good team like Columbus, it comes back to hurt you.”

And it did. As the Crew swarmed the New England net, Francis whipped a cross from the left wing that deflected off the left arm of Joseph in the 79th minute and the penalty was awarded to the Crew.

As expected, Schelotto stepped up and sent it through a minute later to level it 2-2.

Rather than searching for the go-ahead, the Revolution appeared to sit back and defend for the draw. It worked, as the final ten minutes featured a pair of teams that were happy to let the clock wind down and secure a point for their efforts.

“We need to stay concentrated for 90 minutes and stay focused and keep that lead,” said Joseph. “Tonight, it came back and hurt us.”

Leave a Reply