New England Soccer Today

Coming Home Victorious

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

HARRISON, N.J. – Teal Bunbury and Jermaine Jones each tallied a goal and an assist as the New England Revolution took an important 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals in front of a sold out crowd of 25,000 – including over 1,100 traveling Revolution fans – at Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Red Bulls will now need to score at least two goals and win at Gillette Stadium next Saturday to overturn the Revolution’s aggregate lead. The winner of the series advances to MLS Cup.

Bunbury opened the scoring for New England in just the 17th minute with some brilliant individual skill, but New York would find an equalizer in the 27th minute through Bradley Wright-Phillips after a flurry of chances in the Revolution box. New England would have the last word through Jones with Bunbury playing provider, setting up Jones for a tap-in in the 85th minute after a great build-up led by Lee Nguyen on the counterattack to give the game its final 2-1 margin of victory, despite New York out-shooting New England 18 to 8.

Head coach Jay Heaps made just one change to the line-up that defeated the Columbus Crew 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals second leg two weeks ago at Gillette Stadium with Andrew Farrell returning from injury to replace Kevin Alston in the starting XI.

New England had the first opportunity in the just fourth minute after earning a free kick on the left flank. Chris Tierney sent in a perfect cross where an onrushing Jermaine Jones beat his man to the ball to direct a powerful header on frame that forced an impressive diving save from Luis Robles.

The Red Bulls had a chance in the seventh minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips played Lloyd Sam behind the defense. Sam ran in on goal and hit a low shot on frame to the far post, but Bobby Shuttleworth got down to make the save and A.J. Soares was able to clear the rebound.

Bunbury gave the Revolution the lead 17th minute. The Revolution winger got the ball from Jermaine Jones just outside the right side of the box, cut inside on Red Bulls defender Ambroise Oyongo and unleashed a curling left-footed cross inside the far post to make it 1-0.

“I wanted to get matched up with him and I was fortunate to get matched up one on one,” said Bunbury. “My left foot isn’t my strong foot but I feel like I took it well. I’m just very happy with the result we got. It was a crazy, hectic game for everybody. It was like a track meet back and forth but our guys stayed concentrated. We maybe didn’t have all the possession in the world but we were able to come out and get a result.”

Soares became the first player in the playoff series to get a yellow card when he tripped up Wright-Phillips on the way to the box in the 23rd minute. The cards came flying in from there with Jermaine Jones, Scott Caldwell and Lee Nguyen all going into the book before the end of the match for New England. Thierry Henry, Ibrahim Sekagya, Richard Eckersley, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Eric Alexander and Tim Cahill all saw yellow for New York. Wright-Phillips’ yellow was his second of the playoffs, meaning he’ll be suspended for the second leg.

“It’s the playoffs and everybody’s emotions are high, everybody’s competitive,” said Bunbury. “I was a bit surprised there was so many yellow cards but that’s the nature of it. Guys are competitive and want to go out there to win. It’s not malicious in any way but it happens.”

The Red Bulls found their equalizer in the 27th minute when Peguy Luyindula beat the Revolution’s offside trap on a Oyongo through ball and in ran in on goal. Luyindula’s shot was impressively denied by Shuttleworth, but he managed to chip another shot from the ground off the rebound. The second attempt beat Shuttleworth and was denied by the crossbar, only for the rebound to fall to Wright-Phillips who headed it in from close range past a Revolution defender on the line.

New York should’ve taken the lead in first half stoppage time after Henry found Wright-Phillips unmarked just a couple yards from goal with a perfect cross from the left flank. Wright-Phillips headed towards goal, but his effort was high of the target.

The Red Bulls again could’ve taken the lead in the 52nd minute when Henry’s shot from distance wasn’t controlled by Shuttlworth, who gave up a tantalizing rebound to Lloyd Sam. Sam tried to beat the recovering Shuttleworth, but sent his effort well wide.

Wright-Phillips threatened again for the Red Bulls in the 59th minute after a through pass from Sam. The MLS Golden Boot Winner eluded a tackle from Soares and hit a left footed shot on frame, but Shuttleworth made the save.

Shuttleworth came up huge again a minute later off an Henry corner kick that this time found Dax McCarty. McCarty powered a header on frame, but it was right at Shuttleworth, who made the save.

New England had their first real chance of the half in the 72nd minute off a corner kick taken shortly by Chris Tierney. Tierney sent the ball to Lee Nguyen, who quickly played it back, allowing Tierney to send in a driven cross. The ball took a deflection right to Robles, bouncing off the ‘keeper to Jones who attempted a header that was high of the mark.

Jones threatened again six minutes later, bringing down a ball in the Red Bulls box, but sending his shot targeted for inside the far post high and wide.

New York threatened late off and 84th minute free kick with Henry chipping a ball towards the back post that Cahill could only head wide.

But it was New England who retook the lead on the counterattack in the 85th minute led by Nguyen. Nguyen ran to the top of the box, then found an open Bunbury in the right side of the box. Bunbury slid a pass to the far post leaving Jones with an easy tap-in to make it 2-1.

“Lee got on the ball and I wanted to get wide and pull their defenders apart,” said Bunbury. “He slipped me the ball, I looked up and Robles came out really tight. I saw Jermaine, slipped it to him and you know, went crazy.”

Even with the Revolution already in a decent position for a road game, Jones saw the counterattack as too good a chance to sit back on.

“I want to win,” said Jones. “This is the point. I think it was a good counter and I saw Lee – he’s a guy who is really good with deep balls – and I tried to come behind the line, but they closed it really good. I still kept going. I didn’t score the two chances I had before, so I was still hungry to score a goal and Teal saw me. I don’t know if he wanted to shoot or he passed, but end of the story a good goal and we’re happy to win.”

The Revolution returns to Foxboro to face the Red Bulls in the second leg on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 3p.m. with a trip to the MLS Cup on the line. A win, draw, or 1-0 loss would be enough to send the Revolution through to the final.

“It’s always important [to win],” said Jones. “I think New York tried to win the game here at home. It’s Champions League rules and when you win [away] and then go back for the second game at home, I think it’s now on Red Bull. They have to come to us and they have to score, they have to win that game and I think it’s maybe good for us – we can sit a little bit back like Columbus and try to punish them when we get the chance.”

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