Once again the New England Revolution failed to hold a lead away from home as they lost 2-1 to the Colorado Rapids last night.
Juan Toja had given the Revs a 1-0 half-time lead, but as in Vancouver recently, the MLS’s best defense could not keep out the Rapids in the second half and New England’s playoff hopes took another hit.
In a stat that will make New England fans still recovering from last summer’s long losing streak, Jay Heap’s side have won only one of their last six games in all competitions, giving up 12 goals in those six games.
New England made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at home to Houston at the weekend. Coming in for left back Chris Tierney (left knee irritation) was Darrius Barnes, making his third start of the season. At forward, Jerry Bengtson replaced Chad Barrett, while Toja came in Kelyn Rowe in an attacking midfield role. Ryan Guy replaced Saer Sene (hip contusion) on the right wing.
Colorado had the game’s first chance in the ninth minute when Deshorn Brown broke through the Revs’ backline and picked up a through ball, but after pulling Bobby Shuttleworth off his line, pulled his shot just wide of the far post.
A Hendry Thomas handball two yards outside the box set up a Revs free kick 15 minutes into the game. With Toja and Lee Nguyen standing over the ball, Toja stepped up and curled his left-footed shot around the five-man wall and inside Clint Irwin’s far post to stake the Revs to a 1-0 lead. The goal was Toja’s first as a member of the Revolution and his first MLS goal in almost five years – since July 19, 2008.
Barnes nearly made it a two-goal New England advantage in the 19th minute when he rose up and connected with a Nguyen corner kick, but his snapped header was just high of Irwin’s crossbar.
Colorado went close in first-half stoppage time when the Revs struggled to clear a Rapids corner. Marvell Wynne tracked down Nate Sturgis’ through ball into the far corner. Wynne got around the ball before it went over the end line and sent a pass back into the heart of the area, where Brown was unmarked and got off a clean first-time shot, but it sailed high of Shuttleworth’s goal.
At the break, the Revs trailed in possession, 34.4 percent to 65.6 percent, while Colorado had out-passed New England by an almost 2-to-1 margin: 246 to 125. However, the Revs maintained their 1-0 lead.
Colorado had a chance to level in the 54th minute when halftime substitute Atiba Harris connected with Nick LaBrocca’s pass, but Shuttleworth bobbled the save. With the ball loose, Edson Buddle pounced but found only side netting from close distance.
Moments later, the Revs’ defense – which entered the game ranked first in MLS – was forced into an unexpected change. Stephen McCarthy was forced off the field after a collision in the 58th minute, his second such incident of the game. In the first half, the central defender was cut on his head, requiring medical attention at halftime. A.J. Soares came on to replace him and partner with Goncalves at center back.
The Rapids finally broke through four minutes later when LaBrocca took a feed from Dillon Powers and rifled a 30-yard shot just inside the near post through traffic, leveling the score at 1-1.
The Revs almost converted the go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute when Nguyen dribbled toward the Rapids’ goal and let loose a blast from near the top of the penalty arc back across the goal, but Irwin made a diving finger-tip save to prevent the goal. Outside of Toja’s goal, Nguyen’s shot was the team’s only other shot on target in the game.
The back-and-forth action continued when Colorado benefited from a Revs miscue in the 67th minute. Goncalves slipped to the ground close to goal and re-directed Powers’ cross in through a narrow sliver of space between Shuttleworth and the post. The own goal gave Colorado a 2-1 lead after several earlier chances to go ahead.
Nguyen had a go to equalize off a Rowe corner kick in the 77th minute, sending in blast off from the corner of the penalty area, back across goal and narrowly wide of the far upper corner past a diving Irwin.
Shuttleworth gave the Revs a chance to stay in the game with a pair of highlight-level saves late in the game. In the 79th minute, he came out off his line to strip Brown in a one-on-one situation. In the 85th minute, Shuttleworth stepped up to stop Chris Klute from point-blank range.