New England Soccer Today

MLS Cup Bound

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution are headed to their fifth MLS Cup final after drawing 2-2 against the New York Red Bulls in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Final to win 4-3 on aggregate goals in front of a home playoff record crowd of 32,698 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon. New Hampshire native Charlie Davies struck twice for the Revolution, each time off an assist from Massachusetts native Chris Tierney, to overcome goals from the Red Bulls Tim Cahill and Peguy Luyindula.

“Obviously this is the vision of the Revolution of 30,000 strong in the stands and us playing in big games in November,” said Tierney. “It’s great for the club, it really is, and I think we’ve doing all the right things the last few years and we deserve this berth. We’re proud of the brand of football that we play and we’re going to try and continue to do that in the final and give it our best shot.”

Having won 2-1 in New York, New England needed a win, draw, or even a 1-0 loss to advance.

Cahill opened up the scoring in the 26th minute, putting the aggregate at 2-2, though New England still had the lead on away goals. Davies, a former Boston College Eagle, would restore the Revolution’s aggregate lead just before halftime, but Luyindula put the Red Bulls back ahead in the game in the 52nd minute and tied on aggregate at 3-3 a score that would’ve sent the game to overtime. Davies second goal of the night and fourth of the playoffs in the 70th minute would send New England to MLS Cup on Dec. 7.

“We’re excited about getting there obviously,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “What a game. It was two teams, it was almost like a heavyweight fight, two teams going at it.”

The draw also extended the Revolution’s unbeaten run to nine games. The team has lost just once in its last 16 games (12-1-3) and is 13-2-3 since ending a club record eight game losing streak on July 30.

The Revolution will play at the winner of the Western Conference Finals between the Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy that will be decided in Seattle on Sunday night. Los Angeles currently leads the series 1-0.

New England made one change from the team that won 2-1 at Red Bull Arena last Sunday with Kevin Alston brought in for Kelyn Rowe. Alston played left back, while Tierney took over at left midfield. New York replaced suspended MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips with Australian International Cahill at striker.

After both sides exchanged half chances through Teal Bunbury and Thierry Henry, each easily saved by Luis Robles and Bobby Shuttleworth, respectively, New York threatened in the 10th minute after a long ball from Richard Eckersley played Tim Cahill into space. Cahill attempted a volley from distance, but his effort was just high of the target.

New York threatened again three minutes later when Henry managed to beat Andrew Farrell to the ball in the corner and turned around on the Revolution defender. Henry sent a dangerous cross to the far post that Shuttleworth just managed to punch out with Cahill lurking.

The Red Bulls grabbed the lead in the 26th minute through Cahill. Henry got the ball at the top of the box and chipped a perfect ball into the box that eluded Jose Goncalves and fell to Cahill. Cahill fought his way around Goncalves and hit a shot past Shuttleworth to make it 1-0 Red Bulls and knot the aggregate at 2-2, though the Revolution still held the lead on away goals.

New York then nearly scored a second off a 37th minute corner kick from Henry. Henry’s service was poorly cleared to Eric Alexander, who attempted a volley. Alexander’s effort bounced to Jamison Olave who directed a looping header that was just high of the net.

New England equalized through Charlie Davies in the 41st minute off of a short corner kick. Tierney passed the corner short to Lee Nguyen, who immediately passed it back, before Tierney sent a cross towards the six yard box. Davies rose up to head a shot towards goal that deflected before beating Robles to make it 1-1 and put the Revolution up 3-2 on aggregate.

“The first [goal] was a training ground routine that we’ve worked on for a while, trying to drag some defenders out,” said Tierney. “Lee did well just to lay it off properly so I could hit it first time. Credit goes to the guys making good runs in the box and I just tried whip it into a good area and they go attack the ball. We were lucky enough to get the goal.”

Another Henry set piece caused problems for the Revolution defense in the 52nd minute. This time Henry’s service from distance found Péguy Luyindula, whose attempted header with his back to goal was just high of the net.

A minute later Luyindula knotted the aggregate score after a Lloyd Sam cross from the right flank was poorly dealt with by the A.J. Soares and Andrew Farrell and fell to Luyindula, who wasn’t tracked by Goncalves, allowing for a fairly easy finish.

New York perhaps should’ve taken the lead in the 65th minute after Henry perfectly picked out Cahill making a run to the far post with a cross from the right flank. Cahill had space, but his effort was well high of the target.

Davies then put New England back in the aggregate lead in the 70th minute after Tierney delivered a perfect cross towards the six yard box and Davies headed it past Robles from close range. The goal tied the match at 2-2 and put New England ahead 4-3 on aggregate. It was Davies fourth of the postseason, tied with Wright-Phillips for the lead in playoff goals this year.

“The last match we played in New York, it was extremely difficult”, said Davies. “I’m going against two big center backs and I definitely studied the match this whole week and saw where their weaknesses were. I found that most of the time, set pieces they left me unmarked and crosses I could find myself unmarked as well.”

New York nearly struck back four minutes later off another Henry free kick, but Shuttleworth just managed to tip Ibrahim Sekagya’s long header over the net.

From there, the Revolution managed to repel the Red Bulls’ late attacks and hold onto the draw, which was enough to see the club win its fifth Eastern Conference Championship and advance to its fifth MLS Cup final.

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