The Ides of PPL Park

Lee Nguyen returned from injury, but it wasn't enough to save the Revolution from second straight defeat. (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages/biz)

Lee Nguyen returned from injury, but it wasn’t enough to save the Revolution from their second straight defeat. (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages/biz)

The New England Revolution are still looking for their first points—and their first goal—of the 2014 season after falling 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. on Saturday afternoon.  New England got off to another poor start with an inability to keep possession in the first half and Sebastien Le Toux’s 31st minute strike dooming the club to a 1-0 deficit from which they were never able to recover.

The Revolution fall to 0-2-0 (0 points) on the season, while the Union improved to 1-0-1 (4 points) with the win. New England now returns to Foxboro for their home opener on Saturday, March 22nd at 2 p.m. against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Revolution made five changes from the team that lost 4-0 in Houston last weekend, some tactical and others forced by injury. Darrius Barnes replace the injured Kevin Alston (hamstring) at right back, while Andrew Farrell returned from injury to replace captain Jose Goncalves—who was absent from the injury report—at center back.

Andy Dorman and Lee Nguyen got the starts in central midfield over Kelyn Rowe (hamstring) and Daigo Kobayashi, and Donnie Smith started over rookie Patrick Mullins at left midfield. Chris Tierney took over the captain’s armband in Goncalves absence.

The Union dominated the possession early holding about 80% of the ball in opening 10 minutes, but neither team was able to create many quality chances until the home side won an 18th minute corner kick. Amobi Okugo powered a header on frame off a Cristián Maidana corner, but Smith was there to clear it off the line.

After a couple of shaky plays in which he struggled to deal with Union crosses, Bobby Shuttleworth came up big in the 25th minute when Jack McInerney got on the end of a low hard pass in the box and hit a shot from close range. Shuttleworth quickly got down to make the stop and the Revolution were able to clear the rebound.

Philadelphia’s superior possession and pressure finally paid off in the 31st minute when Fabinho played Leo Fernandes down the left flank. Fernandes beat Andrew Farrell and ran towards net, drawing AJ Soares towards him to defend. Fernandes then sent a low pass near Shuttleworth that the Revolution keeper failed to reach and Sebastien Le Toux finished with an easy tap-in.

New England’s first real chance came in the 38th minute when Teal Bunbury got behind the defense on the left flank. Bunbury sent a perfect pass across the box to Diego Fagundez, but Fagundez’s shot was right at Zac MacMath. The rebound bounced off Fagundez and out for a goal kick.

The Revolution switched things up at half time to go more attacking with Jerry Bengtson entering for Smith. Bengtson nearly had a quick impact in the 48th minute when Chris Tierney foud Darrius Barnes with a free kick and the Revolution defender directed a header right to Bengtson. The Honduran international striker apparently misread the ball as it deflected off his shoulder, wasting a great opportunity.

Fagundez then threatened ten minutes later with an ambitious effort from distance. His long range blast was right at MacMath, but had enough power to force the ‘keeper to punch it out for a corner.

The Union then flubbed a chance of their own with McInerney hitting a shot high from close range.

Good chances were few and far between in the closing minutes until Le Toux looked for his second goal deep into stoppage time, but his curling effort was headed wide by Farrell and the match would finish 1-0.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue