New England Soccer Today

Revs Advance to Conference Final

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Despite a holding a two-goal aggregate lead entering into the second leg of the two-game Eastern Conference Semi-finals, the Revolution came out firing and grabbed a 3-1 victory Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Lee Nguyen scored for the sixth straight game and netted his 20th goal of the year between the regular season and playoffs. Jose Goncalves and Teal Bunbury also tallied for the Revolution, while Tony Tchani added the Crew’s only goal of the night and last goal of their 2014 campaign.

The Crew came into the match at a strong disadvantage trailing 4-2 on aggregate and needing at least three goals to advance, while playing without Aaron Schoenfield, Bernardo Anor, and their team MVP Federico Higuain.

But the Crew came out aggressively with early chances, including a near miss from Justin Meram and saved shot from Tony Tchani within the first five minutes. Although the Revolution slowly defused the pressure as the half went on, the Crew had their best chance in the 34th minute when Jairo Arrieta took a hard shot 10 yards out from the center of goal, but Bobby Shuttleworth made a diving stop to his left to keep the game scoreless.

Less than ten minutes later in the 42nd minute, the Revolution increased their aggregate lead with the first goal of the match. Teal Bunbury chipped a pass through three Crew defenders to find Lee Nguyen cutting through the box and in a spot he couldn’t miss from in the center of the box. After Shuttleworth made another great save in the closing minutes of the first half, the game went into halftime with Nguyen having the only goal, which gave the hosts a 5-2 aggregate scoreline in the series.

Although no one would have blamed the Revolution if they dropped back to defend their lead, New England started the second half continuing to attack to increase their lead. In the 52nd minute, with a number of Crew players pushing forward, the Revolution ran a 3-on-2 counter attack with centerback Jose Goncalves sprinting the length of the field. Charlie Davies crossed to an unmarked Goncalves in the box, who got just enough on the ball to push it across the line, increasing the lead to 2-0 in the game and 6-2 on aggregate.

Things went from bad to worse in the 61st minute for Columbus, as Ethan Finley, who was tied for the team lead with 11 goals in the regular season, incidentally kicked Shuttleworth in the head going for a loose ball. Referee Armando Villarreal gave Finley a controversial straight red card, all but ending the Crew’s chances.

The Crew pulled a goal back in the 69th minute from a set piece as Tony Tchani scored on a header from Justin Meram, but a perfectl- placed Teal Bunbury shot in the top left corner of the net in the 77th minute made the score 3-1 in the game and 7-3 on aggregate.

The Crew’s misery increased in the dying minutes as Justin Meram picked up his second yellow in the 85th minute, which gave the Revolution a two-man advantage. For the remainder of the game, the Revolution played keep away and Columbus didn’t have a chance to do anything offensively.

The Revolution set an MLS playoff record for most goals scored in a two-legged series with seven.

Four different players – Nguyen, Bunbury, Davies, and substitute Daigo Kobayashi – were credited with assists on Sunday. Nguyen was named man of the match, while Bobby Shuttleworth’s six saves also made him a strong candidate for the best player on the field as well.

The Revolution played in front of the biggest crowd in postseason history (excluding the 2002 MLS Cup) with 20,184 in attendance for the match.

The Revolution now move onto face the New York Red Bulls, who defeated Sporting Kansas City in the Wild Card game and upset the Eastern Conference #1 seed, DC United 3-2 on aggregate. The first leg of the series will be played at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, November 23.

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