Those on the East Coast who stayed up for Saturday’s 10:30 p.m. kickoff between the Earthquakes and the Revs were not disappointed. The back-and-forth affair had a little bit of everything: plenty of chances, solid defensive play, strong counterattacking, and (finally) some goals from the local XI.
Most importantly for New England, there were three points in it as well.
The Revolution had started timidly in each of their first three games, and San Jose dominated possession at the opening whistle. But the visitors looked the more likely side to find the board first, with Saer Sene finding space and testing Jon Busch in the 17 minute, and Teal Bunbury’s half-volley forcing a diving stop in the 25th.
The goals were bound to come, but nobody could have predicted the Revs’ first breakthrough to happen in such bizarre fashion. Victor Bernardez attempted to clear a ball dribbling towards the goal, but his slide bundled the ball into the back of the net.
San Jose equalized through Chris Wondolowski in the 69th, but Lee Nguyen saw the Revs through at the last. After a quick restart following an Earthquakes’ foul, Nguyen deliberately weaved through the final third before firing a low strike into the bottom corner.
Five takeaways from the match, in no particular order:
1) The Revs looked dangerous on counterattacks
New England was desperate just to get onto the scoresheet, but the bigger takeaway might be how they did it. San Jose dialed up the pressure in the second half, and New England responded with some great breakouts. Nguyen, Bunbury and Diego Fagundez all found space on the counter on more than one occasion, and were perhaps unlucky not to have scored earlier. The Revs were rewarded for their efforts with Nguyen’s breakthrough in the 93rd.
2) Set piece defending was poor
The Revs’ defense was solid for most of the night, allowing few chances in open play (Wondo’s goal excluded). But the defending on set pieces was practically nonexistent. Steven Lenhart’s powerful header off of a free kick screamed just wide in the 39th. Clarence Goodson somehow found yards of space on a corner in the 54th, but he couldn’t keep his header down. Wondolowski flicked a 91st-minute header off of another free kick just wide. The defense was good overall, but set piece defending desperately needs to improve.
3) Charlie Davies’ return
Davies was included in the 18 for the first time this season, and came on for Sene in the 62nd. He was dangerous from the outset, playing a nice one-two with his first touch, and nearly drawing a penalty from Goodson. He may not be ready yet to play the full 90, but Jay Heaps had to have liked what he saw from Davies.
4) Goncalves was a rock at the back
Goncalves was a one-man back line at times, particularly in the closing minutes. As San Jose launched balls into the box searching for a late winner (before Nguyen struck), it seemed that every one of them found Goncalves’ boots or head. His contract dispute may not be settled yet, but the captain has now started back-to-back games, and New England has two positive defense efforts to show for it.
5) Goonies get… Goonied
The Earthquakes had scored more goals (17) than any other team in the MLS in stoppage time over the two years. This time, it was the Revolution who had the last laugh.