Twenty minutes into the New England Revolution game against Vancouver on Saturday and everything was going according to Jay Heap’s script.
The Revs had got off to the perfect start when Agudelo scored after 10 minutes. Chris Tierney delivered a pinpoint 50-yard pass, which the Whitecaps defence failed to deal with and Agudelo made no mistake, drilling his shot past Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0. Some nice play involving Sene and Fagundez, freed up Rowe inside the box and he calmly slotted his shot inside the far post.
Two goals up, with the best defense in MLS, what could possibly stop New England from extending their unbeaten streak? MLS Referee Juan Guzman, that’s who.
This game changed in the 23rd minute when a long ball over the top of the New England back line sent in n Kenny Miller. Andrew Farrell was closed to Miller and he was issued a straight red card after he was adjudged to have tripped Miller before he got his shot away. Replays however indicated most of the contact was made when Miller kicked the back of his own foot. What did you think?
Nevertheless, Camilo converted the spot-kick to cut the deficit to 2-1 and snap the Revolution’s club-record 420-minute shutout streak.
Jay Heaps sacrificed Sene for Darrius Barnes, but woeful defending by New England gifted Vancouver two more goals before half-time from Miller and Harvey. The 22 minutes from the time that Farrell was sent off was the worse New England have played defensively since conceding four at New York earlier in the season.
Things did not get any better in the second half as Miller got his second of the night once again from a long ball that the Revs failed to clear.
In their scouting of New England, Vancouver must have seen something that the Revs were doing defensively, as three of the Whitecaps four goals came from long balls down the middle of the pitch that José Gonçalves and Stephen McCarthy failed to deal with.
Imbongo set up a grandstand finish when he raced onto a Darrius Barnes through ball and coolly smashed home a shot while holding off a defender, but Rowe directed a stoppage-time effort over the crossbar before Nguyen’s last-gasp free kick was saved by Knighton to preserve the victory for Vancouver.
Overall, a very disappointing result for New England. Yes the red card to Farrell hurt, but the best defence in MLS should not be conceding goals from long balls over the top.
The Revs have a bye on the schedule next weekend before returning to action in the quarterfinal round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, June 26, when they’ll visit D.C. United at Maryland SoccerPlex. They’ll return to league play a few days later on Saturday, June 29, when they’ll visit Chivas USA.