The New England Revolution earned their first ever victory at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon as they defeated Toronto FC 2-1. An early strike from Jackson put the Revs in a deficit, but goals from Patrick Mullins and Lee Nguyen secured the three points.
The home side had their first chance in the 3rd minute after Jermain Defoe intercepted a pass at midfield and quickly played the ball to Gilberto. The Brazilian was unable to get his first of the year as AJ Soares slid in to block the shot.
Gilberto had another chance two minutes later when he collected a pass from Jonathan Osorio. The young designated player was once again inept in front of goal as his shot was off frame.
Gilberto had more success playing provider as his pass helped Jackson score the game's opening goal in the 6th minute. Jackson's low drive was deflected by Soares, leaving Bobby Shuttleworth flatfooted as the ball went into the back of the net.
"When you go down on the road it's always difficult, especially early," head coach Jay Heaps said. "When you're on the road the next goal is most important."
Toronto would hold the lead until the 24th minute when Mullins opened his MLS account and just might earn an MLS Goal of the Week nod. The rookie, who was playing his first minutes since the season opener, had an impressive long-range shot that beat Julio Cesar to bring the game level. Daigo Kobayashi created the opportunity when he intercepted a poor pass attempt by Doneil Henry.
"I thought (Mullins) was excellent," Heaps commented. "I thought he held the ball up, he battled through fouls. He was everything we needed from our center forward today because they play with two physical center backs."
Mullins nearly added a second in the 28th minute. Kevin Alston initiated the play by offering a cross from the left flank. Nugyen had the first crack at goal, but his shot was deflected and fell to Mullins. The former Terp was unable to put his shot on net.
Toronto's attack came life with back-to-back chances starting in the 28th minute. Defoe played instigator for the first opportunity as his quick pass put Jackson in on goal. Shuttleworth sped off his line to neutralize the threat from the Brazilian midfielder.
The home side again threatened the Revolution net in the 30th minute when Osorio found Gilberto. The forward's left footed shot lacked accuracy, however, as the ball went out for a goal kick.
The Revs were forced to make a change in the 35th minute after Alston fell to the ground with a non-contact hamstring injury. The left back was unable to continue which led to the insertion of Chris Tierney.
Nguyen, who was excellent throughout the night both offensively and defensively, provided Teal Bunbury with an opportunity in the 39th minute. Nguyen's lobbed pass put Bunbury alone with the goalkeeper, but Cesar was able pounce on the ball.
After a first half where only one yellow card was issued, play was much more physical after the break. Referee Mark Geiger whistled both teams for several infractions before eventually issuing his second card of the game. Michael Bradly was the recipient of a yellow card for a professional foul in the 58th minute after he pulled down Nguyen, who was trying to start a counter attack.
Both coaches looked to their bench to break the deadlock. Heaps was first as he introduced Scott Caldwell for Daigo Kobayashi in the 57th minute. Twelve minutes later, Alvaro Rey replaced Kyle Bekker. Diego Fagundez exited for Steve Neumann in the 77th and Issey Nakajima-Farran took the place of Jackson in the 78th.
After a myriad of missed opportunities by both teams, Bunbury made a solid bid at scoring a game-winner in the 80th minute. The chance started with some creative interplay between Bunbury and Nguyen before the former Sporting KC player took a long-range shot that was pushed out of bounds by Cesar.
There was some confusion on the ensuing corner kick, as TFC cleared the initial effort, referee's assistant had his flag up to signal a re-kick, probably because the ball was not spotted properly inside the corner arc. Soon after the retaken corner kick, the referee pointed to the spot when Henry used his hand to block Mullins' shot. For the third straight week the Revs were awarded a penalty and for the third straight week Nguyen buried it.
The action intensified after Nguyen's goal with both teams exchanging prospects. In the 86th minute, Gilberto used his head to redirect Mark Bloom's cross, but Shuttleworth was up to the task. Two minutes later, Bunbury was in on goal, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. Defoe had a left footed effort moments after that went to the left of the goal.
The chances continued during the five minutes of stoppage time, but the Revs were able to hold on to the lead to extend their undefeated streak to four games.
"It wasn't our best game," Heaps said. "We did not play the way we wanted to. The conditions were very difficult with a really slow field. The ball was being held up. Every pass, we were second guessing. So we weren't thrilled with that side of it, but it terms of the work and what you're going to have to do on the road to grind out a result, we did that."
The Revs (4-3-2) will momentarily sit atop the Eastern Conference as they await the results from the weekend's other games. The team will return to Foxboro to prepare for their May 11th visit from the Seattle Sounders.