New England Soccer Today

Real-ity Bites

It was a game that had something for everyone.

A sensational goal by Blake Brettschneider. Check. A pair of world-class goalkeeping clinics, courtesy of Matt Reis and Nick Rimando. Check. A pair of red cards. Check. Oh, and end-to-end action that only intensified in the final minutes. Check.

About the only thing the match didn’t have was a result for the Revolution, who’s late-game opportunities fell by the wayside in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Brettschneider opened the account with a 22nd minute blast to give the guests an early lead. But Alvaro Saborio struck twice in the 33rd and 55th minutes to put Salt Lake up for good.

Will Johnson was awarded a red card in the 59th minute for a studs-up challenge on Clyde Simms to give New England the man advantage until the 81st minute, when Fernando Cardenas was curiously ejected for a challenge in which Jamison Olave appeared to step on Cardenas’ shin.

With Saturday’s match marking the conclusion of an eight-day, three-game stretch for the Revolution, Jay Heaps used a slightly tweaked lineup that featuring Brettschneider up top and John Lozano next to A.J. Soares in the center of the defense.

Salt Lake set out to test the guests’ lineup early. Thirty seconds in, Fabian Espindola crashed the area with a clear look at goal before Reis came off his line to thwart it.

While the hosts held the ball at length in the first 20 minutes, the guests capitalized on its first chance in the 22nd minute. In the shadow of the center circle, Shalrie Joseph played wide to Brettschneider, who took it and cut into the box before ripping a shot that lodged itself into the upper 90 for the shock 1-0 lead.

But the Revolution lead was brought to an abrupt end in the 33rd minute. Deep down the right flank, Kyle Beckerman whipped a cross into the area that ping-ponged between Javier Morales and Saborio. But Saborio eventually collected it, then buried it to level the score.

Going into the second half, the Revolution had every reason to believe they could grab the lead back. Although Salt Lake tipped the possession scale to 60% in its favor during the first frame, the Revs were nearly matching their adversary shot for shot (3 to 4, in Salt Lake’s favor).

However, New England’s poor form on set pieces came back to haunt them in the 55th minute. Morales sent a free kick from about 30 yards that met the forehead of Saborio before it fell into the net to put Salt Lake up before the hour.

Minutes later, though, the hosts went a man down when Johnson went in on Simms near near the center circle on a dangerous challenge. With Johnson gone, the Revolution sharpened their knives in search of the equalizer. And to that end, Heaps switched his 4-5-1 formation to an attacking 3-5-2 by taking out Lozano and inserting Saer Sene to pair with Brettschneider up top.

And it nearly worked. In the 71st minute, Cardenas took the ball near the top of the box, turned, and fired a shot that forced Rimando to meet it mid-air to keep it out of the net. Seconds later, Brettschneider pounded a header on frame that Rimando denied.

While the Salt Lake keeper was showing his All-Star form on one end, another former All-Star – Reis – made an incredible save of his own in the 79th minute. Inside the Revolution area, Saborio fired a shot point blank that the Revolution keeper stopped with his forehead only feet in front of his net.

Then, with the Revs charging ahead in the 81st minute, Cardenas took a heavy touch as he approached the attacking third before he was felled by Olave. But even though the diminutive attacker writhed in pain on the pitch, referee David Gantar issued Cardenas a red card.

With a 10 v. 10 matchup for the remainder, both teams found opportunities to get another before the closing bell. Sene went down the left and crossed toward Benny Feilhaber, who took a touch then was tripped up before he could put it through in the 91st minute.

Six minutes into stoppage time, Reis made a leaping save on Saborio to keep Salt Lake from getting a third goal. But when it was all said and done, the board refused to budge in the final half hour in large part due to the heroics of Reis and Rimando.

The Revolution return to action May 12 when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.

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