New England Soccer Today

Midweek Failure

The New England Revolution’s struggles continued on Wednesday night as for the seventh time this season they scored first, but couldn’t hold the lead, this time falling 2-1 to the Columbus Crew at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Revolution have now won just once in their last 10 games through all competitions.

Lee Nguyen gave the Revolution the lead just over 30 seconds into the match, but the visitors conceded an equalizer to Kei Kamara only three minutes later. A slow start to the second half for New England saw the Crew take the lead through Kamara in the 50th minute and the Revolution showed few signs of getting anything out of the game from there.

New England falls to 6-6-6 (24 points), falling to .500 for the first time since April 19, but the club still clings to second place in the Eastern Conference. Their rivals, however, are quickly catching up and have games in hand. New England is now just 5-3-4 when scoring first, picking up only 19 of 36 points in those games. Their 52.7% of points taken in games when scoring first is worst in MLS, while their 17 points dropped in those games is the most in the league.

Head coach Jay Heaps made three changes to the line-up that squandered a halftime lead and lost 2-1 at D.C. United. London Woodberry was replaced at right back by Jeremy Hall, Daigo Kobayashi came into central midfield for Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe started over Charlie Davies, with Teal Bunbury moving into the striker role.

Nguyen gave the Revolution the lead just over 30 seconds into the match. The 2014 Revolution MVP got the ball from Rowe after Kobayashi forced a turnover and pressed forward before hitting a low shot from distance into the lower corner to make it 1-0 with just his second goal of the season.

The lead was short-lived, however, as three minutes later Kamara equalized with his league leading 11th goal. Héctor Jiménez sent in a cross from the right flank that Federico Higuaín, open in the box, headed off the crossbar. Kamara was quickest to react to the rebound and slotted it in to make it 1-1.

The Crew nearly took the lead in the 13th minute when Higuaín sliced through the Revolution defense to get to the top of the box before hitting a low shot on frame. Higuaín’s effort was saved by Bobby Shuttleworth, but the rebound fell right to Kamara. Kamara’s shot let him down this time, however, as his effort went into the side netting.

New England perhaps should have taken the lead in the 25th minute after Crew defender Waylon Francis, under pressure from Rowe, failed to deal with a long ball. Francis kicked the ball off his own face, setting up Rowe perfectly for a breakaway. Rowe was alone in on goal, but referee Fotis Bazakos whistled the play dead for a foul, despite being far from the play when making the call.

The visitors had another opportunity in the 36th minute as Chris Tierney got down the left flank and split two defenders while making a run towards the box. Tierney hit a low cross through the box that found Scott Caldwell, but Caldwell’s redirect from close range was softly hit right at Crew ‘keeper Steve Clark, who easily made the save.

The Crew would go into the break with a 61.6% edge in possession, though the Revolution began to gain some control towards the end of the half.

It was all Crew to start the second half, however. Seconds in Higuaín found Justin Meram in the box with a cross, but the Crew midfielder headed high.

Then in the 50th minute the Crew would take the lead with Kamara’s league-leading 12th goal of the season. Ethan Finlay brought down the ball off a cross from Francis and sent a low pass to Kamara, who somehow found space just feet from the Revolution goal and had an easy tap-in. Replays showed Finlay may have used his arm in bringing down the ball and Shuttleworth received a yellow card for arguing the play.

Bunbury attempted to get one back for the Revolution with a long-range effort in the 60th minute, but it was well saved by Clark.

The Crew nearly doubled their lead in the 74th minute when Meram nutmegged Hall, then beat Andrew Farrell and ran in on goal. Meram hit a low, soft shot past Shuttleworth, but Goncalves was there to clear it off the line.

New England had some late opportunities, but failed to test Clark. Among their best chances was a Rowe shot in the 90th from inside the box off a Hall cross that he put just high of the net.

The Revolution return home to face the Vancouver Whitecaps at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

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