FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One of Columbus’ late-game substitutes made an instant impact, setting up the game-winning goal just seconds after coming on and the Crew beat New England, 2-1 on Saturday night in front of 14,542 at Gillette Stadium. It is the eighth straight loss for the Revolution (7-11-2, 23 points), who fell out of a playoff spot and into sixth place, while the Crew (6-7-8, 26 points) moved to fourth.
Justin Meram was the super sub for Columbus, coming on in the 83rd minute and just seconds later, sending in a long ball from midfield to Ethan Finlay. Finlay ran onto the ball and was able to fend off Darrius Barnes and fire a shot from just inside the area that beat Revs goalie Bobby Shuttleworth to make it 2-1.
“It was a hard fought game both ways,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “I thought the game was there for the taking in the first half. I thought to start the game we did everything right. We had some chances and we didn’t finish so it comes down to one or two plays at the end of the game that we didn’t make.”
The Revolution had leveled the game at one in the 50th minute on corner kick from Kelyn Rowe that was headed home by AJ Soares. It was their first goal from a corner kick this year.
The Crew struck first in the 43rd minute behind their first free kick goal of the season. Barnes was whistled for taking down Finlay about 25-yards out near the center of the field. Federico Higuain stepped up and curled a right footed shot over the wall and into the back of the right side of the net, beating a diving Bobby Shuttleworth.
The equalizer for New England came just moments after Rowe nearly scored on a shot in the run of play. In the 49th minute, Barnes’ throw in was flicked on by Patrick Mullins. Rowe ran onto the ball and fired a low shot but Crew goalie Steve Clark got a foot to it and it skidded wide. On the ensuing corner kick – the Revs 10th of the game – Rowe sent in a hard hit cross that Soares sprinted to at near post and flicked into the net to tie the game.
“I think our guys responded well at halftime,” Heaps said. “We came out with the right energy and got the goal. I thought there was time, two or three chances after that that we needed to make a play and we didn’t.”
New England was unable to muster up a serious scoring opportunity after Finlay put the Crew up 2-1.
The Revolution had the first scoring chance of the game very early on through Teal Bunbury. In the 11th minute, Andrew Farrell played a pass on the ground to Bunbury, who turned and took off towards goal. His stepover move fooled Michael Parkhurst, allowing Bunbury to get into the area and fire a shot on target, but Clark was able to get a hand to it and push it over the net.
Just over 10 minutes later, New England added another shot on frame, this time from Diego Fagundez. Midfielder Scott Caldwell collected possession in the attacking third, fed it to Lee Nguyen, who found a streaking Fagundez in the area, but his low shot was right at Clark for a comfortable stop.
The Crew’s first real scoring chance came in the 30th minute, but Bernardo Anor’s bid was just wide. Columbus’ Higuain found defender Chad Barson, who crossed in a perfect service to the far post, but Anor’s header went inches wide of the far post.
Fagundez had his second chance of the game in the 39th minute, combining with Kelyn Rowe at the top of the area before ripping a shot from just over 18 yards away, but his shot was wide left.
Columbus nearly doubled their lead just a minute later when Finlay sent in a cross that was chested down by Anor right to the feet of Higuain. Higuain blasted a close range shot but Shuttleworth was in the way and pushed it out for a corner kick.
It was Finlay that had the first real threat for the Crew in the second half, just minutes after Soares’ equalizer. Midfielder Will Trapp played Finlay in behind the defense but his tight angle shot went high and banged off the outside of the crossbar.
Lee Nguyen had a pair of chances nearly consecutively in the 62nd and 63rd minutes. First, he intercepted a pass from a Columbus defender, dished it off to Mullins, who laid it back for Nguyen, but his show went wide. Next, Nguyen combined with Fagundez in a similar fashion but this time, his shot was saved by Clark and then Clark punched away the rebound opportunity.
The next three chances all looked like goals for the Crew as they beat Shuttleworth each time, but the Revs were able to clear each attempt off the line. First, in the 65th minute, a corner from Higuain was deflected by Parkhurst and fell to Barson. Barson, with his back to the goal just inside the six yard line, back heeled the ball and it squeezed under Shuttleworth, but Nguyen was there to sweep it away from New England. Then in the 74th minute, Higuain sent in a corner that was headed on frame by Tony Tchani, but it hit Fagundez at the near post and stayed out.
On the ensuing corner kick, again by Higuain, Anor get his head to it but it was again kept out by Fagundez at the near post. The Revolution were credited with five saves as a team with Shuttleworth making just two of them. Columbus finished the game ahead in possession, with 51.3% of the play while the teamseach had seven shots on target.
New England has a quick turnaround as they’ll host the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, July 30th at Gillette Stadium.