FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution drew their largest crowd of the season on Sunday with 23,950 at Gillette Stadium, but didn’t give the fans much to cheer about as they fell 2-0 to a severely undermanned New York Red Bulls. The loss was the Revolution’s second in a row heading into a three week break from MLS action for the World Cup.
New England outshot New York 22 to eight, but poor finishing meant they never recovered from the Red Bulls’ 18th minute goal by Eric Alexander, who headed in a set piece from Lloyd Sam. Despite the Revolution controlling most of the game, it was New York who would score again in the 76th minute, this time from Peguy Luyindola from just outside the box when the home side failed to clear another set piece.
“It was just one of those days where we didn’t take our chances and gave up two poor goals from set pieces,” said Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman. “I think the second half we came out a bit brighter and created the chances, we just needed that goal and I think if we had gotten that goal we would’ve gone on to win the game. It didn’t happen and they certainly took their chances.”
Despite the loss, the Revolution (7-5-2, 23 points) remain in first place in the East. New York (4-5-6, 18 points) jumped to fifth with the loss. D.C. United plays at Montreal on Wednesday and could overtake New England for first heading into the break with a win.
“We wanted to go out and finish our chances better tonight,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “We could’ve scored in the first 30 seconds of that game, we could’ve scored at various times during that game and I just thought we let ourselves down. The movement wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.”
Heaps made just one change to the line-up that lost 2-0 at the Montreal Impact last weekend with Daigo Kobayashi returning to the starting line-up in place of Kelyn Rowe. The Red Bulls were without five regular starters for the match. Midfielder Tim Cahill (Australia) and defender Roy Miller (Costa Rica) missed the game due to World Cup duty, while midfielder Dax McCarty missed out due to injury and striker Thierry Henry and defender Jamison Olave sat out due to the game being on artificial turf.
Just 30 seconds into the match the Revolution had the first chance of the game after a giveaway by the Red Bulls near midfield. Lee Nguyen found Patrick Mullins at the top of the box who turned and powered a shot on frame that Luis Robles could only punch wide.
But after a solid start by New England, it was the Red Bulls who would take the lead off a free kick in the 18th minute. Lloyd Sam curled in a free kick from the left flank, where Eric Alexander rose up to head it past Revolution ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth had left his line to go to the ball, but couldn’t reach it after colliding with Dorman and was caught in a tough spot on the play. It was the first goal the Revolution had conceded off a free kick this year.
New England had two chances in the 23rd and 24th minutes from distance with both Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney forcing saves out of Robles.
Teal Bunbury then had an opportunity in the 30th minute after a solid build-up down the right flank, but the 24-year-old couldn’t beat Robles from a tight angle.
Just before halftime New England threatened again in the 44th minute through Diego Fagundez after Mullins played him the ball at the top of the box. Fagundez ran dribbled through the right side of the box before blasting a shot that was denied only by the far post.
Heaps subbed off Mullins at halftime for Kelyn Rowe in a move he described after the match as “tactical”. Bunbury moved up top with Rowe playing on the wing.
After that the Revolution came out strong to start the second half and Andrew Farrell threatened in the 50th minute after making a run down the right flank into the box. After passing to Rowe, Farrell got the ball back and ran in on Robles, but his low shot was too close to the ‘keeper to cause him much trouble.
The Revolution threatened again in the 70th minute after earning a free kick on the right flank and Tierney delivered a dangerous in swinging cross. The ball fell to Red Bulls defender Ibrahim Sekagya, but he made a mess of it and directed the ball towards the far post of his own goal. Only a diving stop from Robles prevented a disastrous own goal.
New York then doubled their lead against the run of play in the 76th minute after the Revolution failed to clear a Red Bulls free kick. The ball eventually fell to Luyindola, who hit a low shot from just outside the box past Shuttleworth to make it 2-0.
New England nearly got a 90th minute consolation goal after Fagundez got the ball from substitute Saer Sene and ran into the right side of the box. Fagundez hit a low cross in front of goal that went tantalizingly in front of Bunbury, but no one could redirect it into the open net.
Rowe then had a chance in the third minute of stoppage time, directing a header on frame, but his effort was denied by his own teammate, as Sene blocked the shot.
“I don’t think it was about effort or energy tonight,” said Heaps. “I think it was a little bit about the final ball, the class inside the area, and we had two or three balls go across, we had shooting go right at their goalkeeper. We weren’t good enough and we’ve got to get better.”
New England breaks from MLS action until a June 28th match with the Philadelphia Union, but faces the Richmond Kickers on June 18th in the U.S. Open Cup.
“It’s disappointing [going into the break after two losses],” said Dorman. “I think today especially at home we were looking to kind of sign off going into the break on a positive note and I’m disappointed with the result.”
Game Notes: The 23,950 in attendance was the seventh largest crowd for a standalone MLS match at Gillette Stadium… The Revolution controlled 53% of the possession, winning the possession battle for just the fifth time this season. The team is 1-4-0 when they’ve had the majority of the possession and 6-1-2 when they’ve been out-possessed… Robles made 10 saves for the Red Bulls to get the shutout, while Shuttleworth made 0 saves for New England… Kobayashi led all starters in the match with 94% passing accuracy. He’s first among Revolution regulars this season with 85.7% passing accuracy.