It was a wet and sloppy 90 minutes that saw the Philadelphia Union the victors yet again, winning 1-0 against the virtually punchless New England Revolution. The Revs showed great resolve for the majority of the game, defending well for the most part and getting a bit lucky for the rest. But, in true Revolution fashion, a late goal after the 75th minute found its way past Bobby Shuttleworth, courtesy of Jack McInerney, to seal the win for the Union.
The Revolution knew they were in for a physical game, and the rain, sleet, and hail in Chester, PA helped make sure of that. The first half played out scoreless, with both teams finding few chances to go in front. The initial chance for the Revs came in the 3rd minute when Bengtson was brought down right at the top of the box. Lee Nguyen's free kick, however, nailed Danny Cruz in the face (knocking him out of the game) and resulted in a fruitless corner kick.
The Revolution found themselves with a free kick opportunity yet again in the 22nd minute, which was struck towards goal by Nguyen but was ultimately handled by Zac MacMath.
Though pushing and shoving was abundant, as well as a handful of horse-collar take-downs by the Union, the first yellow card didn't come until the the 27th minute when A.J. Soares checked McInerney in retaliation (one might argue) for a non-call against the Union just moments earlier. A yellow card for Amobi Okugo eventually followed shortly thereafter.
The Revs' best chance in the first half finally came in the 35th minute when Jerry Bengtson was sprung on goal by Nguyen, but his shot was read the whole way by MacMath and saved with ease inside the penalty area.
New England started the 2nd half with what appeared to be a tactical substitution, replacing Clyde Simms with Andy Dorman, most likely because of the latter's attacking instincts. While Dorman put in a respectable shift, his outing could have been more memorable in hindsight.
The weather let up a bit in the second half, but the sloppiness and physicality of the game did not. The next 20 minutes or so yielded few chances for either side but provided plenty of aggression from both sides.
It wasn't until around the 70th minute that the action started to tilt Philadelphia's way. Substitute Antoine Hoppenot brought the Union a much needed spark and helped generate a handful of chances that were just barely handled by the Revolution defense.
Ultimately, however, a 76th minute Philadelphia corner kick created the chance that mattered most. Jack McInerney continued his impressive form against the Revs (3 goals in 3 games) when he connected on a Bobby Shuttleworth rebound save that no Revs were able to clear out of the box. He headed home an easy ball to the far post and gave the Union their overdue goal.
New England almost answered by way of a counter attack that saw Juan Toja with the only other good chance on goal for the Revs, but his shot was just wide of the far post.
Not giving up just yet, Jay Heaps subbed on Chad Barrett and Chris Tierney in place of Toja and Kevin Alston, switching the formation to a 3-5-2 in an attempt to claw back to life. Tierney had his share of chances to send in his usually reliable service from the left-wing, however none of his crosses or attempts provided the ensuing Revolution attackers much to work with.
In the end, the Union were able to pull bodies back to defend their lead and they took the full three points by the final whistle. The Revs will now head back to Foxboro for their home-opener against Sporting Kansas City next Saturday, March 23rd.