New England Soccer Today

Clincher Denied

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution missed a golden opportunity to book their ticket to the playoffs, blowing a lead against a weakened Philadelphia Union side before settling for a 1-1 draw in front of 25,885 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.

Lee Nguyen opened the scoring for New England in the 36th minute after earning—and converting—a penalty kick. The Revolution controlled most of the game from there and finished with 64.8% possession, but some lax moments let to a Union counterattack in the 65th minute that saw Fernando Aristeguieta score the equalizer. From there Union goalkeeper Andre Blake proved unbeatable, making a Philadelphia record 10 saves on the night.

“Obviously a hard fought match and I want to credit Philadelphia for being well coached and well aligned tonight,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “It was very hard to break down. We had chances and also credit their goalkeeper; I thought he had a great night. We gave up two shots on goal and one of them went in, so we have to be a little bit better there and make sure we finish games when we do have the lead.”

The draw saw the Revolution (13-10-8,  47 points) move into a tie for second place in the East, while the Union (9-15-7, 34 points) remain well out of the playoff picture in ninth place.

Heaps made two changes to the line-up that lost 3-0 at Montreal with regular starters Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell returning in place of Teal Bunbury and Steve Neumann, respectively.

After a lack of good early opportunities, the Revolution had a pair of chances in the 28th minute with a Chris Tierney shot forcing a diving save from Andre Blake and then the ensuing corner finding Kelyn Rowe at the far side of the box. Rowe blasted a shot towards goal, but it was wide into the side netting.

New England took the lead in the 36th minute after earning a penalty kick when Fabinho tripped up Nguyen while he was making a run through the box. Nguyen took the ensuing penalty and perfectly placed a powerful shot into the lower corner, just beating a diving Blake.

The Revolution went into the break with a lead having controlled the first half with 65.8% possession. They would have the first testing chance of the second half too, when Rowe hit a shot from distance in the 58th minute that forced Blake into another diving save.

But the Union would equalize against the run of play in the 65th minute after a rare nice build-up down the left flank. Aristeguieta got the ball just inside the box, turned on his defender and hit a low shot past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

“We felt like we had the momentum there and let a soft goal in,” said Nguyen. “Maybe had that not happened we could’ve had a second, but that’s how the game goes and now we’ve got to get ready for the next one.”

Nguyen looked to get New England back in the lead in the 71st minute off a short corner. After some play on the left flank the ball got to Nguyen in the box who hit a low shot on frame, but his effort from a tight angle was denied by Blake.

Two minutes later a Jermaine Jones shot from 30 yards force Blake into another save. Off the ensuing corner a left footed shot from Scott Caldwell just outside the box was again stopped by Blake. The Revolution finished the night with 14 corners compared to zero for the Union.

Jones threatened again in the 77th minute from the edge of the box, forcing Blake to make an impressive stop. A follow-up from Rowe seconds later was also denied.

The Union then had a chance to take a shock lead against the run of play on the counter in the 79th minute with substitute Sebastien Le Toux getting behind the defense. Le Toux attempted to beat Shuttleworth, but his shot was right at the keeper and easily saved.

“Maybe when you have bad luck they can score the second goal and you can lose the game here and you played the whole game better,” said Jones. “That’s the point and it just makes everybody upset from us, but what can you do? We have to look forward and try to make it in Chicago.”

Blake continued his heroics soon after three times denying substitute Juan Agudelo on impressive shots to keep the match tied.

“All credit goes to the keeper,” said Agudelo. “He had a heck of a game today, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to get one in the back of the net.”

The former University of Connecticut ‘keeper then made his tenth save of the match—a Union record in a single game—denying a Diego Fagundez shot in the 87th minute.

“[Andre’s performance] was pretty good,” said Heaps. “He almost saved the penalty too. I mean he was all over the place. He’s actually a player I’ve watched quite a bit coming from UConn and scouting the local colleges. He’s really long. He makes these saves out of nowhere. I would’ve thought we’d have two or three tonight and he was excellent.”

New England would continue to press forward looking for a winner, but couldn’t test Blake again.

“If you’re 1-0 in front you have to bring it home and keep the points here,” said Jones.

The Revolution returns to action still looking to clinch a playoff spot with a trip to Chicago next on Saturday.

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