The New England Revolution lost 4-3 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night, the thirteenth time this season, New England Revolution has lost by a single goal. All but one of the club’s defeats this season have been by one goal. That is the sort of stat that must keep Jay Heaps awake at night.
In recent games it has been their inability to score goals that has plagued the Revs, but against the Crew, New England got goals from Jerry Bengtson, Ryan Guy and Lee Nguyen, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance.
The loss dropped New England to 6-14-5 on the season and extended the teams winless streak to eight games.
Bengtson, Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe all returned to the Revolution’s starting lineup after appearing as substitutes in last weekend’s loss to the Chicago Fire, while Nguyen – removed at halftime in Chicago with a sprained left ankle – started the game on the bench.
Feilhaber was the architect of the game’s first real chance in the 10th minute when his in-swinging cross from the left wing found Guy streaking through the box, but Guy’s powerful header flashed just wide of the left post. The early chance was a sign of things to come in a riveting first half.
Guy found his range in the 17th minute, striking from long distance to give the Revs a 1-0 lead. Saer Sene teed up the chance with a short layoff outside the box and Guy let loose from 25 yards, benefitting from a slight deflection as the ball dipped past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
The Revs continued to pile on the pressure and doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Bengtson beat the offside trap, latched onto Feilhaber’s through ball and rounded the charging Gruenebaum, who had come well outside his box to challenge. Although Bengtson’s effort kicked off the inside of the left post, it eventually nestled into the back of the net.
New England’s lead didn’t last for long, however, as Higuain (26’) and Arrieta (32’) answered back almost immediately to pull Columbus level at 2-2. Higuain struck first with an exquisite free kick, curling a 25-yard drive over the wall and into the upper right corner, while Arrieta drilled a left-footed shot into the near upper corner after Milovan Mirosevic played him behind the Revolution’s backline and into the box.
Higuain proved his first goal wasn’t a fluke by burying another free kick from a similar distance in the 43rd minute as the Crew turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead before the halftime break. This time the foul occurred on the opposite side of the field, but the result was the same as Higuain curled his effort over the wall and inside the left post.
Searching for an equalizer the Revs made a pair of changes midway through the second half, bringing on Nguyen and Diego Fagundez. The moves prompted a switch to a 3-5-2 formation with Chris Tierney pushing from left back up to left midfield.
The Revs almost found their equalizer in the 74th minute, although through unconventional means. Kelyn Rowe’s right-wing cross bounced in an awkward spot and forced Crew defender Julius James into an uncomfortable header, which he directed off the outside of the post.
James wasn’t as fortunate in the 81st minute, however, as he conceded a penalty kick by fouling Fagundez as he shielded the ball inside the box. Nguyen stepped to the spot and buried his effort low and to the right, past Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who replaced the injured Gruenebaum at halftime.
It appeared as if Nguyen’s goal would rescue a point for the Revs, but Arrieta spoiled those plans in the 86th minute when he raced onto Tony Tchani’s looping pass and finished low inside the right post from the center of the box.
Both Bengtson and Guy had late bids to grab another equalizer for the Revs, but Lampson was up to the task as he earned the win in his MLS debut.
The Revs will now return home to play three games in an eight-day span, beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 29, when they’ll welcome Chivas USA to Gillette Stadium.