The New England Revolution lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night, but Jay Heaps will take a lot of positive aways from what was a good New England performance.
Blake Brettschneider scored a fantastic goal to put the Revs (3-6-0, 9 pts.) ahead in the 22nd minute, but the lead was short-lived as Saborio pulled RSL (7-3-1, 22 pts.) level with an opportunistic finish in the 33rd minute. Saborio scored what proved to be the game winner in the 55th minute, getting on the end of a Javier Morales free kick.
Both sides had players sent off in the second half as RSL’s Will Johnson (59th minute) and New England’s Fernando Cardenas (81st minute) were both issued straight red cards.
Three days after securing a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids at Gillette Stadium there were several changes to the Revolution’s lineup, including a switch from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 alignment. Brettschneider served as the lone forward with Jose Moreno injured and Saer Sène (sick) taking a place on the bench, while Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe returned to the wings. In defense, John Lozano replaced Stephen McCarthy in central defense.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, fresh off his 100th career victory, came up big in the fifth minute to deny Fabian Espindola’s breakaway chance. Morales sprang Espindola from 40 yards out but Reis charged off his line to stuff the Argentine’s first effort before smothering the attempted rebound.
After absorbing pressure for the opening 20 minutes, the Revs stunned the Rio Tinto crowd by scoring on their first shot of the game as Brettschneider finished off a spectacular individual effort. Shalrie Joseph played Brettschneider into space down the left wing and the second-year forward cut inside past two RSL defenders before unleashing an unstoppable drive inside the far post.
The hosts pulled level just 11 minutes later when Saborio pounced on a loose ball inside the box. Kyle Beckerman’s deflected right-wing cross fell to Saborio following a brief scramble and the Costa Rican forward made the most of his chance by lashing home from eight yards out.
Lee Nguyen tried to respond for the Revs in the 38th minute and forced RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando into a smart save at his near post, but the teams went into the halftime break all even at 1-1.
That changed 10 minutes into the second half when Saborio notched his second of the game to give RSL a 2-1 lead. From the right channel, Morales delivered a curling free kick to the back post, where Saborio eluded his marker and sent a deft header back across the goal and inside the post.
Just four minutes after taking the lead, RSL was reduced to 10 men as Johnson was issued a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Clyde Simms. The Revs responded by bringing on Cardenas and Sène, prompting a switch to a 3-5-2 formation.
Only a pair of fantastic saves from Rimando kept the Revolution from equalizing in the 71st minute. Cardenas forced the RSL ‘keeper into a sprawling stop with an outside-of-the-foot shot from the top of the box, while Brettschneider’s bullet header from the resulting corner kick was headed just under the crossbar before Rimando tipped it over.
Reis matched his counterpart in the 79th minute, stoning Saborio from close range as the Costa Rican bid for his hat trick with a clever chip from the left side of the box.
New England’s comeback bid took a hit in the 81st minute when Cardenas was ejected following a collision with RSL defender Jamison Olave, although replays showed Olave’s studs actually caught Cardenas on the top of his boot. Still, the Revs forced Rimando into two more saves in the dying minutes as Simms was denied from 35 yards in the 89th minute and Feilhaber was stuffed from close range in the first minute of stoppage time.
The Revs will be back at Gillette Stadium for their next two matches, beginning Saturday, May 12, when the Vancouver Whitecaps visit Foxborough. Kickoff for that match is set for 7:30 p.m.