The New England Revolution suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday, falling 1-0 in Philadelphia to the Union in a lifeless match. The defeat dropped the Revolution to 1-1-0 (3 points) on the season.
Jack McInerney’s 76th minute strike was all the Union (2-1-0, 6 points) would need to grab victory. McInerney headed a Sebastien Le Toux corner kick on frame that was saved by Revolution ‘keeper Booby Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth, however, gave up a rebound that fell right back to McInerney, who easily finished his second chance to give the Union a 1-0 lead.
The Revolution made three changes to the line-up that won 1-0 in Chicago last week. Goalkeeper Matt Reis and midfielder Kaliffa Cisse didn’t make the trip due to injury and were replaced by Shuttleworth and rookie Scott Caldwell, respectively. Kelyn Rowe also replaced rookie Donnie Smith in the line-up.
The early going was devoid of many chances, but two Lee Nguyen free kicks perhaps came closest to threatening the net. Four minutes in a Nguyen free kick from the just outside the box looked headed for goal, but was bravely blocked by Danny Cruz in the wall. Cruz was hit in the head with the shot and was subbed out of the game for Michael Lahoud immediately after.
Nguyen’s next free kick effort came from about 35 yards out and caused Union ‘keeper Zac MacMath some problems on the wet surface, but he was eventually able to corral the shot.
Both teams failed to convert their best chance of the half in a quick one minute span. First the Revolution failed to clear a cross from the right flank and the ball fell to Lahoud about 15 yards from goal. The 26-year-old midfielder had space, but blasted his shot wide of the target.
A minute later Nguyen played Jerry Bengtson behind the defense, but the Honduran International hit his shot too close to an onrushing McMath, who easily made the save.
With the Revolution struggling to create chances in the opening period, head coach Jay Heaps opted to bring on Andy Dorman for Clyde Simms, adding a bit more offensive punch to the center of the midfield. Still the match was bogged down in midfield and lacked any chances of note for the next half hour.
The Union would finally spring to life in the 74th minute when Keon Daniel broke into the box. Daniel powered a low shot on frame, but Shuttleworth managed to get just enough on it to tip it high of the net.
Two minutes later McInerney would put the Union in the lead with his second chance goal off a corner kick.
The Revolution nearly found an equalizer in the 78th minute, but Toja wasted a great chance, sending a shot wide, after Nguyen played him behind the defense.
New England then brought in Chad Barrett and Chris Tierney for Toja and Kevin Alston, switching to a 3-5-2 to give the team more attacking options. Despite added pressure, the Revolution didn’t get a chance until deep into stoppage time when Nguyen earned a free kick just outside the box. Tierney attempted to curl a shot on frame, but it was blocked by the wall.
Soon after Bengtson had the Revolution’s last chance of the match, but couldn’t direct his shot off a cross on frame.
The Revolution return to action on Saturday with their home opener, facing Sporting Kansas City at 4 p.m. on March 23 at Gillette Stadium.