Another Lead Bites the Dust

Lee Nguyen

Lee Nguyen slide tackles the ball away from Portland’s Diego Chara. (Photo credit: Chris Aduama/aduamaphotography.com)

FOXBORO, Mass. – Charlie Davies scored a first half goal for the second straight game but Liam Ridgewell scored his first ever MLS goal in the second half and New England and Portland settled for a 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium.

New England is now winless in 10 of their last 11 and stand at 8-12-3 on the season while Portland is 7-7-10.

“I thought the game was a little bit of a tale of two halves,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “I thought we were there in the first half with the way we played but the second half we let them back in and that’s disappointing because when you have a team you think you can put away, you have to start putting them away and we had the chance in the first half.”

It was the Revolution who opened the scoring. After Kevin Alston came away with a defensive stand, Diego Fagundez took over and sent a searching ball deep to the corner of the Timber’s area. Portland goalie Donovan Ricketts charged out and beat Bunbury to the ball, but his low clearance went to Kelyn Rowe right over midfield.

Rowe quickly fed Fagundez, who in turn carried the ball up the field before splitting two defenders with a pass into the area. Davies timed his run perfectly – just staying onside – to get behind the defense and used a one-time shot off his left foot from the left side of the six yard-box to beat an outstretched Ricketts and the ball bounced off the far post and into the net to make it 1-0.

Portland leveled the match in the 65th minute after just missing a couple of chances minutes prior. Ridgewell took control near midfield after New England failed to keep possession on a clearance and raced past Kelyn Rowe and then beat Andrew Farrell on the side. The center back then strolled into the area and buried a shot to level the score.

“No, I’m not [happy],” Heaps said of his team’s defensive effort on Ridgewell’s equalizer. “I haven’t seen it on film but live it was a center back beating two or three guys when we have three points on the line. We have to be better there.”

It’s the second straight game that New England has surrendered a one-goal lead at halftime.

“I think it’s a little bit of we stop playing, we’re not opening up wide and enough and starting to play a little bit when the game is there,” Heaps said on what team’s are able to do in the second half. “To be honest with you, it wasn’t as much what [Portland] did but what we did. We gave them the ball back, we had turnovers. We had 67% [passing] accuracy but it felt like 37%, we were giving the ball away unforced and that’s not good enough.”

The first chance of the game came in the 12th minute in favor of the Revolution after Rowe blocked a clearance from Portland. Though it looked like a possible handball, the ref allowed the game to play on and Bunbury found himself in on goal on the right side of the area, but Ricketts charged out and cut down the angle and pushed Bunbury’s bid wide.

Portland had their first real chance just minutes after the Revs’ opening goal. On a free kick from about 35-yards out, Diego Valeri sent in a dangerous ball to the far side of the six-yard box and Norberto Paparatto met it with his head but his attempt was right at Bobby Shuttleworth, who stood his ground for the save.

It looked as though Portland would level the score in the 37th minute as Valeri found himself all alone on goal after a well-timed pass from Gaston Fernandez, but Valeri’s chip attempt went wide of the net to preserve the Revolution’s one goal lead.

Portland controlled the majority of goal scoring chances in the second half. It was Valeri who had the first chance less than three minutes into the second half on a feed from Will Johnson, but his low shot skidded wide. In the 62nd minute, Ridgewell nearly architected the Timbers’ first goal on two occasions. First, Ridgewell sent in a cross that turned into a shot, forcing Shuttleworth into a diving save. Just seconds later, Ridgewell fed Johnson in the area, but his close range shot was wide. Just three minutes later is when Ridgewell leveled the match.

It looked as though Portland had scored the go-ahead goal just a minute after the equalizer. Maximiliano Urruti stayed onside on a through pass and raced in on a two-on-none alongside Gaston Fernandez against Shuttleworth. Instead of having a go himself, Urruti decided to lay it off to Fernandez, who calmly slotted it home but the assistant referee signaled Fernandez was offside.

New England had a couple of chances after the equalizer as substitute Daigo Kobayashi sent in a nifty pass with the outside of his right foot to give fellow sub Patrick Mullins a chance on goal, but the rookie’s first touch let him down and Ricketts was able to collect. In the 78th minute, the Timbers gave Rowe plenty of space in the attacking end, but his shot from distance hit the outside side netting.

Shuttleworth came up with a possible MLS Save of the Week candidate in the 82nd minute to save a point for New England. Darlington Nagbe cut inside just after he crossed into New England territory and played the ball wide for sub Steve Zakuani. Zakuani returned the ball to Nagbe inside the area and Nagbe used a cutback move to get space before feeding Urruti right near the penalty spot. Urruti fired a low shot but Shuttleworth was quick to get down and push it out for a corner.

New England is back in action next Saturday, August 23rd at Gillette Stadium against Chivas USA with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

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About Ryan Lanigan

Ryan Lanigan has covered local sports for over five years, specifically on the high school level. He currently is the editor of HockomockSports.com. He can be reached via e-mail at Ryan.Lanigan@hotmail.com