The New England Revolution could not hold onto a 1-0 half-time lead as they ended up losing 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union on Sunday night at PPL Park.
Saer Sene’s swerving long-distance drive opened the scoring in the 12th minute and the Revs (6-10-5, 23 pts.) maintained their lead until the 59th minute when Freddy Adu converted from the penalty spot to pull the Union (7-10-2, 23 pts.) level. The Revs had numerous chances to find a winner of their own in the closing stages, but ultimately it was Jack McInerney who clinched all three points for Philadelphia with a last-gasp header.
TThe loss seriously dents any hopes that the Revs had of getting into the Eastern Conference playoff race as as they have fallen to eight place in the conference, tied with Philadelphia.
Benny Feilhaber and Clyde Simms both overcame injury concerns to take their spots in the Revolution’s central midfield, while Sene returned to the starting lineup after appearing as a substitute in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
Sene repaid head coach Jay Heaps’ faith almost immediately by opening the scoring with a wicked strike in the 12th minute. After Kelyn Rowe sprayed the ball wide to Sene on the right wing the French striker cut inside to his left foot and unleashed a vicious drive from 30 yards which knuckled past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who got a hand on the ball but could only push it into the roof of the net.
Philadelphia had a pair of chances to respond within 10 minutes but was twice denied. Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis was well positioned to make an easy save on Carlos Valdes’ close-range header in the 17th minute, while Kevin Alston and Stephen McCarthy combined to prevent Antoine Hoppenot from going clean through in the 21st minute.
The Revs almost doubled their advantage in the 28th minute when Feilhaber’s incisive through ball sent Rowe in behind the Union’s backline, but the rookie’s shot from the top of the box skimmed inches wide of the left post. Lee Nguyen went close in first-half stoppage time when his long-range drive flew just over the crossbar.
New England had a legitimate shout for a penalty kick turned away shortly after the halftime break when Union defender Sheanon Williams used his arm to block Sene’s effort, but Philly was awarded a spot kick shortly thereafter when Alston clipped McInerney outside the box. The hosts took advantage of their good fortune as Adu dispatched his penalty attempt into the left side to knot the score at 1-1 in the 59th minute.
Heaps responded by using all three of his substitutions in short order, bringing on Shalrie Joseph, Dimitry Imbongo and Darrius Barnes in place of Simms, Rowe and A.J. Soares.
Imbongo – making his MLS debut – drew a dangerous free kick in the 79th minute which Chris Tierney curled toward the upper corner, but MacMath was on hand to make the save. Just moments later Sene played Joseph through on goal, but the Revolution captain lofted his shot over the bar as MacMath charged off his line.
Feilhaber (86th) and Sene (89th) were both denied by MacMath as the Revs continued to press in the closing stages, but it was McInerney who found a game-winner for the hosts just as the game neared stoppage time. Williams was the provider with a curling cross from the right wing and McInerney rose highest at the back post to send a downward header into the far side netting.
After playing three straight on the road the Revs will now return to Gillette Stadium for back-to-back home games, beginning on Saturday, Aug. 4, when they’ll host Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. That match will be the second half of a doubleheader featuring Italian giant AC Milan and Honduran power Olimpia in the first game at 4:30 p.m.