Benny Feilhaber gave the New England Revolution a 1-0 first half lead at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., but the visitors would end up having to overcome a penalty kick, an ejection, a blunder from goalkeeper Matt Reis and a late 2-1 deficit to escape with a 2-2 draw.
Shalrie Joseph’s 90th minute penalty earned the 10-man Revolution (4-9-8, 20 points) a point against the defending MLS Cup Champions Colorado (7-6-10, 31 points), bringing an end to a back-and-forth affair filled with twists and turns.
Feilhaber, making his return to the line-up after missing Wednesday’s match due to suspension, gave the Revs a dream start in the 25th minute after a long thrown-in from Kevin Alston was flicked on by rookie Stephen McCarthy. Feilhaber got to McCarthy’s pass and headed it past goalkeeper Matt Pickens from close range for his first career MLS goal.
“[McCarthy] was perfectly positioned and he just flicked it on to me and then I was perfectly positioned to just right there and headed it in,” said Feilhaber. “So it was an easy goal but the tough part was actually getting there. So it’s a little bit of luck but obviously you’ve got to be lucky sometimes to get to the right spot at the right time.”
The Revs, who were coming off their first road victory of the season on Wednesday, a 1-0 win over D.C. United on a McCarthy goal in 90+ degree heat, would take that lead into halftime. Dealing with the altitude and another 90+ degree game, the Revs were doing well to limit Colorado’s chances in the second half when things fell apart.
Sanna Nyassi, twin brother of the Revs Sainey Nyassi, broke behind the Revolution defense in the 63rd minute and was one-on-one with Reis. Chris Tierney was right behind the speedy Gambian and attempted to break up the play with a last-ditch tackle. His effort, however, was late, cleaning out Nyassi instead of getting the ball.
Referee Geoff Gamble immediately pointed to the spot and issued Tierney a red card, leaving the Revs down a man the rest of the match. Caleb Folan stepped up to take the penaly kick, powering a shot down the middle while Reis dove to his left to knot the match a 1-1.
Things went from bad to worse in the 82nd minute when a long ball from behind midfield from Kosuke Kimura caught Reis off guard. With Rapids strikers as well as his own defenders rushing the box, Reis let the ball bounce and misread its trajectory, seeing the ball jump over his head and into the net to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
“We came out at halftime delighted, and we started the second half exactly the same as we did the first,” said Revs head coach Steve Nicol. “We didn’t give them anything and the one time they got in behind us they got the penalty…. And the second goal only happens here. The ball that we use is impossible for the players to play properly. It’s moving everywhere. Even the simplest things become difficult. So to go down to 10 men we’re thinking we don’t deserve this.”
Nicol had brought on Kenny Mansally in the 75th minute hoping his speed could aid the shorthanded Revs on the attack and he did just that in the 89th minute. Darrius Barnes headed a long ball from Kevin Alston to Mansally in the box, who turned on his defender Scott Palguta and was dragged down by the 28-year-old. Gamble again immediately blew for a penalty kick.
“Nicol made the changes so I came in and out of everything I did I just wanted to run the back four and make two or three of them scared,” said Mansally. “I wanted to use my speed.”
Captain Shalrie Joseph would step up to take the penalty, blasting it down the middle similarly to Folan, while Pickens dove the wrong way. The goal was Joseph’s team-leading sixth of the season.
The Revs remain on the road, heading to Kansas to take on Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, as they look to continue to claw their way back into playoff contention.
“The D.C. game was positive and just putting two consistent performances together and getting points out of two consistent games is huge for us,” said Revs midfielder Pat Phelan. “We need to get points in pretty much every game but two more wins and we’re up to like 4th place. With a big game against Kansas City next week, hopefully we can continue our ways here and make up some ground.”