New England Soccer Today

Real Heartbreaker

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Despite playing a clean, possession-oriented match, the New England Revolution paid dearly on a pair of set pieces, as they dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

Salt Lake secured the first goal when Nat Borchers headed a Javier Morales free kick through in the 68th minute. New England responded after Sainey Nyassi unleashed a rocket that fortuitously deflected through in the 82nd minute. Yet, the level score didn’t last long, as Alvaro Saborio nodded a Morales corner kick into the net in the 84th minute.

Kenny Mansally was active on the left flank for the Revs on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

“It kind of typifies the season,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol of the result. “I think we passed the ball well, but there’s no way we should have lost the game tonight.”

The Revolution had every right – and opportunity – to claim three points as they opened the match in impressive fashion. The midfield established themselves early and surprisingly put Salt Lake in a defensive shell for much of the first half.

New England’s defense also showed itself well in the tenth minute when Morales fired a free kick deep inside the right channel that looked primed to find a teammate. But the backline combined to usher it out immediately.

Aside from that early chance, the Revolution dominated the remainder of the first frame.

At the 20th minute, Nyassi took on his defender, advanced down the right, and uncorked a hard shot that veered away from the near post.

Nyassi nearly struck again when Ilija Stolica sent it sideways to the right-sided midfielder, who ripped a screamer that skimmed off the top of the bar in the 27th minute.

Matt Reis, who encountered very little traffic in front of the net, was briefly tested in the 28th minute when Will Johnson pushed a ball ahead to Espindola, who headed a lethargic effort on frame before the keeper coolly received it.

The Revolution pushed ahead again in the 35th minute Stolica sent a keen pass to Shalrie Joseph, who took a touch and pounded a powerful shot that deflected dangerously off of Jamison Olave in front of the net and forced Nick Rimando to the ground.

“In the first half, we passed the ball well and were moving the ball well,” said Joseph. “But in the second half, we just went a way from it and lost our shape.”

But before New England lost its shape, they mounted a handful of opportunities in a an effort to find that critical first goal.

Nyassi and Kenny Mansally made bids for it when they put a pair of shots deep inside Salt Lake’s end, as the Revolution continued to collaborate on the goal that had eluded them all night.

Alas, all the hard work and possession couldn’t save them in the 68th minute.

After earning a free kick several paces before the box, Morales delivered a beautiful ball to the far post, where Borchers squeezed it into the upper ninety to put Salt Lake on the board.

Shocked to find themselves on the wrong side of the scoreline, New England attempted to equalize immediately when Marko Perovic forced a free kick on frame that Rimando leaned left to snuff out in the 69th minute.

Another opportunity presented itself ten minutes from time when Kheli Dube launched a missile from distance that Rimando gallantly guided over the bar.

Two minutes later, the goal that the Revolution greatly desired appeared. Firmly entrenched in enemy territory, Perovic fed it ahead Dube near the corner of the area, where the substitute striker sent it ahead to Nyassi inside the box. Without any hint of hesitation, the Gambian blasted a shot that deflected off a Salt Lake defender before it sailed gently into the net to make it one goal apiece.

With a draw a respectable result against a team as formidable as Salt Lake, the Revolution surely dreamed of claiming an impressive point with full time near.

That dream lasted all of two minutes before it was cruelly crushed in 84th minute, when Saborio redirected a Morales corner kick that squibbed past a flat-footed Reis.

“The problem with my position is if you make a mistake, it usually comes to bite you in the (rear end), “ Reis. “But unfortunately, the way the season’s been going, we keep on beating ourselves more than we’re letting other teams beat us.”

Determined not to let another get away, the Revolution hurried to reply in the closing minutes as Nyassi pounced on a loose ball right in front of goal. With the equalizer in his eyes, his shot was smothered immediately by Rimando the 85th minute.

“They basically had nothing the whole game,” said a dejected Joseph. “We kept pushing the tempo, we kept attacking…(but) at the end of 90 minutes, we’re still 2-1 down.”

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