CHESTER, Pa. – The New England Revolution scored first and held a 1-0 first half lead against the Philadelphia Union, but maintained their disastrous road form, giving up two second half goals in an eventual 2-1 loss in front of 18,598 at PPL Park.
Saer Sene opened the scoring for the Revs on a long range curling shot in just the 12th minute, but a dubious penalty call in the 59th minute – plus the subsequent conversion by Freddy Adu – and a last minute defensive letdown leading to a Jack McInerney goal assured the home team would take all the points.
“I think it’s a harsh penalty,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “I think we all know [the foul] was outside the box… if that’s not called, does the momentum swing that quickly? I don’t think so, but that said, we had our chances to win the game, had chances to go up 2-0, 3-0. We didn’t do it and we left reeling a little bit.”
With the win, the Union (7-10-2, 23 points) jumped in front of the Revolution (6-10-5, 23 points) for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference on goal differential and hold two games in hand. The loss dropped the Revs to just 1-8-2 on the road and left them ninth in the East and nine points out of a playoff spot.
“[Why we struggle] on the road, I don’t know,” said Sene. “We are a young team and this makes me sad because sometimes we play a very good game, we do one mistake, and then we give up a goal. This is what we have to do better because… today I think we allowed them to make maybe 5, 7 or 10 mistakes, but we score only one goal and we make one or two mistakes and they score two goals. I think that’s what we have to do better on the road.”
After a positive early start for New England, Sene grabbed the lead for the Revs in the 12th minute after getting the ball nearly 30 yards from goal on the right flank from Kelyn Rowe. The Frenchman took a couple touches and then sent in a curling, dipping shot that Union ‘keeper Zac MacMath couldn’t handle, putting the Revs ahead 1-0. The goal was Sene’s ninth of the season, but just his second in the last nine games.
“I practice every day and I try to do that in the practice,” said Sene. “Here today when I get the ball I know I had a good shot, that’s why I tried. They were from the same distance in the practice and now here in the game it happened and I scored. That’s good for the team, but we lost the game.”
The Union could’ve equalized in the 17th minute after a long throw-in led to Michael Farfan finding an open Carlos Valdes at the six-yard box. Valdes headed a shot on frame, but it was right at Matt Reis, who easily made the save.
But it was the Revs that had more chances to extend their lead, and Rowe played the Union’s offside trap perfectly in the 28th minute to set up a chance. The rookie was found behind the defense with a perfectly placed through ball from Benny Feilhaber and Rowe, alone in space at the top of the box, attempted a shot to the far post, but missed just wide.
Though the Revs went into the break with just a one goal lead, it was a good sign for a club that was 5-0-0 this season when up at halftime heading into the match. This time, however, a second half collapse was on the cards, leaving the visitors visibly frustrated.
“Absolutely [it was three points lost],” said Feilhaber. “Those were our three points. We missed way too many opportunities on the attacking end when we had the lead. Played a good first half, went in at half at 1-0, felt good about it. [We] had chances in the second half to open it up – get the second and the third. Even when it was 1-1 we had the chance to go back up 2-1, didn’t do it and then, you know, if you don’t score you get scored on. I guess that’s the story of soccer.”
Ten minutes after the Revs were denied a potential second half penalty call of their own a possible Sheanon Williams handball, the Union knotted the score at 1-1 in the 59th minute through a Freddy Adu penalty kick. Referee Edvin Juresic gave the spot kick, whistling Kevin Alston for a foul on Jack McInerney that appeared on replays to have occurred outside the box. Adu then blasted a shot inside the left post that was just wide of a diving Reis.
“At first [I didn’t think it was in the box], but I haven’t seen the replay,” said Alston. “My initial reaction I didn’t think it was in the box, but I’m not the official.”
“It shifted the momentum a bit, but we still could’ve won,” said Feilhaber. “I really got to take a look… I was on top of that play and I got to take a look at a replay because I could’ve sworn that was outside the box. If that was outside the box, that’s a call that kills us. That’s a tough call for us and that’s harsh. That’s one were going to have live with, but it’s tough to lose a game like that on a call that could’ve gone another way”
The Union had a 65th minute chance created by some deft dribbling by Williams, denied by Reis, but then it was the visitors coming closest to scoring from there. First a Chris Tierney free kick from just outside the box towards the upper corner beat the wall only to be denied by MacMath in the 78th minute. Then a minute later substitute Sharlie Joseph got behind the defense, but his effort to chip the keeper went just high of the net.
The Revs had one last chance to take the lead on an 89th minute counter attack with Saer Sene and Dimitry Imongo – making his debut off the bench – both breaking forward. Sene took too long on the ball, however, allowing MacMath to get off his line and knock away the ball.
“We just didn’t make the right decisions in front of goal,” said Feilhaber. “We had quality looks and we just couldn’t put it in the back of the net. Whether it was a bad shot or missing one more pass or whatever it was, we had to put the balls in the back of the net and we only put one in the back of the net, which wasn’t enough today.”
The Union grabbed the lead in the final minute of regulation time after Williams got the ball in space on the right flank. Williams crossed it to the far post where McInerney rose above Kevin Alston to head it into the net, giving the Union a 2-1 lead.
Despite late pressure by the Revs, the Union would make the lead stand, leaving New England in desperate need of points heading into a two game home stand that starts with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, August 4.