New England Soccer Today

Heaps Credits Sapong; Criticizes Rookie Ref

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

For Revolution coach Jay Heaps, Sunday’s tilt at Talent Energy Stadium must have felt like a series of gauntlets, with each seemingly more severe than the previous.

First, it was the absence of Charlie Davies, who missed the match with a hamstring strain. Then came the two-goal deficit, both strikes off deflections. After that, there were the penalty kicks – plural – that went against his squad.

“You know, we were battling a lot of different things out there today,” Heaps told the media after the match. “I feel like we came out there with the right mindset. We weren’t dangerous enough. We have to be from the back a little bit better and that allowed two goals.”

That mindset was no match against a motivated Union side that wasted no time channeling the attacking prowess that allowed them to pull off an upset win at Columbus the week before.

Playing in front of the home crowd for the first time in 2016, the hosts made the most of a pair of early opportunities. In the 18th minute, C.J. Sapong collected a pass from Fabinho inside the box and fired away, with the shot taking a deflection off of Jose Goncalves before it settled into the back of the net.

A nearly identical sequence featured Sapong awaiting service in the area with Warren Creavalle sending the pass that allowed the Union striker to send another shot into the back of the net – with another ricochet off Goncalves aiding its journey past Bobby Shuttleworth in the 33rd minute.

“You know obviously there were two breakdowns, and I didn’t look at it on film,” Heaps said. But it’s two almost mirror images plays were Sapong did a nice job to get a little bit of space, and we shouldn’t allow it, but he did a good job. Credit C.J. for two really great goals.”

Just when in case the guests didn’t feel like the odds were already stacked against them, defender Je-Vaughn Watson was issued a straight red card for a two-footed tackle on Roland Alberg to leave his teammates shorthanded for the duration.

“The red card was right in front of us,” Heaps said. “I don’t think there was much in the challenge, but at this point the studs were up, but I got to look at it on film again.”

One thing – actually two things – Heaps didn’t feel he needed to look at was the footage on the penalty kicks awarded to the Union in first-half stoppage time and the 80th minute. Both calls were the first two spot kicks ever awarded in league action by referee Nima Saghafi, who was officiating his first MLS match on Sunday.

The first came from a foul committed by Andrew Farrell inside the box, where he tripped up Ilsinho. The second was called after Goncalves’ physical challenge on Sapong in front of Shuttleworth.

“I didn’t fault the referee on (the red card),” Heaps said. “I faulted him on the two penalty kicks quite frankly.. the one that was right in front of us … the breeze was blowing harder than what he got touched… The one in the second half was textbook – you just don’t do it.”

While both penalties were subsequently stopped by Shuttleworth – who became only the fourth keeper to deny two tries from the spot in the same game – it wasn’t enough to keep the Revolution coach from griping about the refereeing on a wider scale.

“Every week we’re talking about something that the referee does,” Heaps said. “It’s starting to become a little bit exhausting.”


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