The New England Revolution took a first-half lead and appeared poised to steal three points from the Colorado Rapids in Commerce City on Wednesday night, but a terrible second-half performance spoiled their good fun as the Revs fell 2-1. Juan Toja's first MLS goal with the Revs gave the visitors the lead, but a blast from Nick LaBrocca and a rare own goal from Jose Goncalves erased the advantage.
Colorado dominated the first half statistically, but in truth it was uneventful, with both teams playing stout defense and finding it difficult to get anything started through the midfield. The Rapids nearly took the lead in the 9th minute when Deshorn Brown beat Stephen McCarthy for speed and bore down on goal, but Bobby Shuttleworth came off his line and put the rookie off just enough to force the ball wide of the far post.
The next chance was the goal. After earning a free kick at the edge of the box, Juan Toja stepped up to take it. His shot was low and bent around the wall for the far post, and would likely have been saved easily by Clint Irwin, but Jerry Bengtson made a run across Irwin's field of vision and dummied the ball, allowing it to slip through and into the back of the net in the 15th minute.
Shuttleworth brought his saving gloves with him on the night, and he needed them in the 18th minute when he came quickly off his line to smother an Edson Buddle volley after the striker had been played in over the top. Marvell Wynne's follow-up sliced wide. An unmarked Darrius Barnes headed over from a corner just a minute later.
The second half saw the Revs begin a dangerous pattern, one they've shown before: they started to retreat. They lost the energy and drive to maintain possession or to create, and they pulled back further and further into a defensive shell, allowing Colorado acres of time and space on the ball.
The Rapids had several chances, and the momentum shifted hard. It couldn't stand, and in the 62nd minute the Rapids had their breakthrough. Nick LaBrocca got the ball from Deshorn Brown, and after a little jink move that caused Goncalves to overcommit, LaBrocca unleashed a laser from 25 yards that beat Shuttleworth and found the back of the net.
Lee Nguyen had a rip that was saved by Clint Irwin in the 63rd minute, but the Revs didn't really wake up. In fact, in the 67th minute, Dillon Powers got to the byline and cracked a hard cross to the near post. Goncalves tried to deflect it out, but instead put it past his own goalkeeper. This match was the first that showed Goncalves to be mortal in defense, as he also picked up a yellow card in what was his worst -and probably only poor - performance of the year.
The Rapids continued to dominate, and despite going to a three-man back line, the Revs didn't threaten much. Ryan Guy put a volley wide at the near post in stoppage time, but in truth New England never looked like they were going to equalize.
The other major news from the match was that Stephen McCarthy was forced to leave the field with an apparent head injury in the second half. A trailing arm from Brown actually opened a gash on his skull in the first, but McCarthy appeared to handle it and continued. A driven shot from point-blank range that caught him flush in the head wasn't as easy for McCarthy to handle, though, and he was replaced by A.J. Soares. Given his history of concussions, the prognosis can't be good, and we're all hoping it turns out to be precautionary.
New England will be right back in action on Saturday against the Crew in Columbus.
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- Jose Goncalves Didn't Make The All-Star Team, But Maybe That's A Good Thing
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