It was one of their best performances of the season, but the New England Revolution still came up a little short at the end as they lost 2-1 to the New York Red Bulls Friday night.
New England made one change to the team that lost 1-0 at FC Dallas last week. Pat Phelan replaced Stephen McCarthy in central midfield.
If their was ever a good time to play the Red Bulls this is it, as the are missing five players because of international duty; Juan Agudelo (United States), Dwayne De Rosario (Canada), Rafa Marquez (Mexico), Tim Ream (United States) and Dane Richards (Jamaica).
The Red Bulls almost scored within the opening 20 seconds when Mehdi Ballouchy sent Luke Rodgers into the right side of the box, but Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis charged off his line to force Rodgers to poke his shot wide of the near post.
Rodgers was almost in on goal again in the seventh minute when Henry slipped a clever pass into to the box, but A.J. Soares excellently cleared the danger with a last-ditch tackle.
Slowly New England pulled themselves back into the game and had a great chance to take the lead in the 34th minute when Lekic was pulled down in the box by Stephen Keel. But Red Bull keeper saved Joseph’s attempt from the spot, diving to his left to make a strong one-handed save. For a team that scores less than 1 goal a game, to miss a penalty was a big blow.
And the Revs were left to rue their missed opportunity just three minutes later when the Red Bulls took a 1-0 lead. Thierry Henry burst into the right side of the box and played a low, hard pass across the face of goal which the unfortunate Cochrane directed into his own net from six yards out.
Rodgers almost doubled New York’s advantage in the 43rd minute when he found himself with another good look inside the box, but again his effort skittered wide of the right post.
It didn’t take the Red Bulls long to find their second goal following the halftime break, however, as Henry made it 2-0 in the 50th minute. After being played down the left wing by Keel, Henry used a quick cutback to lose Cochrane inside the box before finishing low into the far corner.
The Revs responded almost immediately, cutting the deficit to 2-1 when Boggs collected his third career goal in the 54th minute. Tierney picked out Boggs at the back post with a curling left-wing cross, which Boggs settled with his right thigh before blasting his effort inside the far post.
It was almost level five minutes later when second-half substitute Kenny Mansally – whose entrance signified a shift to a 4-4-2 formation – had the top corner picked out from distance, but Sutton made a sprawling save to tip the ball over the crossbar. McCarthy also had a quality chance from the ensuing corner kick but drilled a full volley wide of the right post.
I cannot emphasize how much better the Revs played once they went to a 4-4-2 formation. In the game, they had a season hide 12 shots and a lot of them came after the formation switch. Hopefully Revs boss steve Nicol will keep this formation for the rest of the season.
Mansally was in the thick of the action again in the 72nd minute when he pounced on a misplayed back pass to break in alone on goal. The Gambian attempted to slot a left-footed shot under Sutton, but didn’t make solid contact and his effort squirted wide.
Ballouchy had a quality chance for the Red Bulls at the other end of the field in the 74th minute as the end-to-end action continued, but Reis got down well to his left to make the save. Three minutes later Ballouchy had a chance to tap home from close range after being set up by Henry, but missed wide right.
The Revs thought they had their equalizer in the 87th minute when Sainey Nyassi found Lekic at the back post and the Danish striker buried a close-range header, but the linesman’s flag went up for offside and New England’s comeback ultimately fell short.
After opening the month of June with back-to-back road games, the Revs will now return to Gillette Stadium for consecutive home games next week. New England’s brief two-game home-stand begins on Wednesday, June 15, when Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC visits Foxborough for an 8 p.m. kickoff.