FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution suffered their third straight defeat, falling 3-1 to the Philadelphia Union in front of 16,483 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. Sebastien Le Toux capitalized on a Revolution error to give the Union a lead going into halftime and then Danny Cruz doubled it in the 69th minute. Saer Sene pulled one back in the 73rd minute, but Le Toux’s second goal would put the game out of reach in the 78th minute.
“Disappointing result,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “Disappointing lack of finishing in the first half and … obviously an awful goal to give away before half. There are a lot of things that go into a game, so there are a lot of things that need to be looked at and it starts with me.”
The loss, New England’s third straight league loss by two goals, leaves the Revolution (7-6-2, 23 points) in third place in the East. The Union (4-7-6, 18 points) temporarily jump into a tie for sixth in the conference and finish the season series with the Revolution with two wins and a loss.
The Revolution made one change to their line-up from that lost 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls on June 8in their last MLS match with Brad Knighton starting over Bobby Shuttleworth in goal. Knighton started the Revolution’s two U.S. Open Cup games during the league’s three week World Cup break.
“I thought Brad looked really sharp in those Open Cup games and that’s what it’s there for,” said Heaps. “I think it’s always a tough conversation. I think Bobby’s been really good this year and this decision was based more on sharpness.”
New England’s first chance of the match came in the 10th minute when Diego Fagundez sent a pass to Patrick Mullins in the box. Mullins hit a low shot towards the far post, but Zac MacMath dove to make the save. The Rebound fell to Teal Bunbury, but his shot was right at MacMath, who was still on the ground from the earlier save. The ball deflected off a defender towards Diego Fagundez, who had made a run towards the far post, but the 19-year old midfielder whiffed on his shot attempt.
Fagundez had another chance for the Revolution in the 20th minute when Lee Nguyen played him behind the defense. Fagundez ran in on goal, but as the defense was catching up, he attempted to chip MacMath. His effort was too weak and MacMath easily made the save.
Philadelphia’s best early chance came in the 26th minute when Boston native Sheanon Williams flicked on a free kick to Maurice Edu. Edu had space close to goal and attempted to volley a shot, but missed high of the net.
The Union had another golden opportunity a minute later when Danny Cruz found Sebatien Le Toux at the top of the six yard box. Le Toux turned on his defender and attempted a shot to the far post, but it skimmed off the upright and stayed in play.
The visitors again had a chance in the 39th minute when Le Toux sent in a low cross from the left flank. The ball deflected off Jose Goncalves under pressure from Conor Casey and fell to Amobi Okugo, just inside the box, who hammered a shot on frame. Knighton kept the ball out with a diving save.
The Union took the lead in the 42nd minute after a long ball from MacMath found Casey in the Revolution’s half. Casey flicked the ball into the box, where Goncalves seemed to have it covered, but attempted to head it back to Knighton. Goncalves’ header didn’t have nearly enough power and Le Toux picked if off and flicked a shot past Knighton to give Philadelphia the lead.
“I had to speak to mypartners in the backline,” said Goncalves. “We should speak a little bit more, maybe louder, but it’s something that happens very fast in the game. I was a little bit slow to react and the ball was right into his feet. Brad [Knighton] had nothing to do with this goal. It’s my mistake and I take the responsibility.”
New England threatened seven minutes into the second half when Andrew Farrell made a run down the right flank and sent a dangerous ball into the box. Bunbury attempted to redirect it on frame, but his effort was wide of the near post.
The Union doubled their lead in the 69th minute on a nice solo effort by Danny Cruz. Cruz ran towards the box from near midfield and wasn’t pressure by the Revolution defense before unleashing a shot from distance that curled inside the post past a diving Knighton.
A minute later New England had a chance to cut into the lead when Tierney cut in on his defender on the left side of the box then curled a right footed cross to the far post. An onrushing Saer Sene couldn’t connect.
In the 73rd minute, Sene, who entered the game off the bench just three minutes earlier, cut the lead in half with a tap-in off a cross from fellow substitute Kelyn Rowe.
A minute later New England almost equalized off a corner kick when the ball fell to A.J. Soares who blasted a low shot on frame, but MacMath made an impressive diving save.
But Philadelphia would restore their two goal cushion in the 78th minute with the Revolution defense stretched. Substitute Andrew Wenger got the ball on the right flank and sent a low cross to Le Toux, who directed a low shot past Knighton to make it 3-1.
“I thought Rowe and Saer did a nice job of changing the game and getting us back into it,” said Heaps. “The second goal was really a dagger because I thought we were gaining momentum and starting to play like we know how to play.”
New England nearly grabbed a late consolation goal in the 90th minute on a Rowe corner kick. Rowe’s service found fellow substitute Steve Neumann, who hit a low shot on frame, but MacMath managed to make the save.
The Revolution had one last chance deep into stoppage time, but Soares missed wide from close range off a Tierney cross on essentially the last kick of the game.
“I thought we should’ve taken our chances in the first half,” said Heaps. “I thought there were probably two chances we could’ve finished and then I thought we were second best, quite frankly. The bad goal was kind of the final straw of that first half. I don’t think we were good enough all the way through and so that goal really hurt us.”
“I think halftime was a pretty fiery halftime,” Heaps added. “No one was happy with what had happened in that first 45 minutes, including myself – whether it’s my preparation, whether we as a staff aren’t getting our guys ready – but we had ample chances to score and we didn’t, at the same we didn’t play our best stuff either. I thought the second half it was much more our type of energy.”
New England heads to Utah for a match-up with Real Salt Lake on Friday, July 4, at 10 p.m. ET.