Before a crowd of 24,364—the 17th largest soccer crowd in Gillette Stadium history—the New England Revolution rescued a point from the jaws of defeat by way of a 95th minute Darrius Barnes goal, leading to an eventual draw with their rival the New York Red Bulls.
Although the first half played out goal-less, the Revolution should have been up 1-0 early when Jerry Bengtson scored in the 5th minute only to have it disallowed by the linesman for being off-side. Upon replay, it was clear that the Revolution DP was very much on-side.
"The (Jerry) Bengtson goal is onside," said Jay Heaps. "I’ve already seen the replay on that. I don’t want to comment further besides to say that was a goal. What do you do? That’s tough, because to me that changes the entire game."
That, coupled with a knee injury to Florian Lechner, did indeed change the game for coach Heaps, who admitted to being at a disadvantage in the second half when he would have liked to have more attacking options available to substitute into the game. New York made a first half sub due to injury as well, replacing Rafa Marquez (who was suffering from tightness in his hamstring) with Joel Lindpere.
The second half, however, played out much differently. After a first half devoid of any official cautions, referee Sorin Stoica issued six second half yellow cards, including two to New York right-back Connor Lade, resulting in his ejection in the 74th minute. "That kind of stuff happens," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. "Of course when you go one player down and can still match them in a decent way and then of course when you score that late with 10. You can’t get much closer to picking up three points." And close they were.
Lindpere’s goal came in the 91st minute when Revolution keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who started for the first time since mid-July, mis-judged a cross into the box. After falling over Shuttleworth and the Revs defenders, Lindpere was able to reach his head to the loose ball and put it into the net with ease. And although it seemed to be the game-winner for the visitors, the Revs were able to muster enough life in the waning moments to spoil New York’s celebration.
In the 95th minute, Kelyn Rowe found himself out wide with the ball after an initial Revolution attack was denied by the New York defense. Rowe passed the ball out to an ensuing Ryan Guy who floated a picture-perfect cross into the box where a charging Darrius Barnes was able to head past Bill Gaudette for the equalizer, and his first goal of his MLS career.
"It's been a long time coming," said Barnes. "It's just great that it came at that point in time, when we were down and they had just scored a goal in the 91st minute. We were able to have that resiliency and come back to get one of our own. It helped us to get a point, but we were unfortunate not to get three."
The Revs surely will be able to hold their heads high after tonight’s result, which increases the home unbeaten streak against the Red Bulls to 16 games. With their pride still relatively intact, the Revs now look to a two-game road trip before returning to Gillette next month to close out their home account for 2012.
Despite this season essentially being over for the Revolution, Jay Heaps knows that there is still plenty to work towards. "Listen … there is so much to fight for," Heaps said post-game. "We are in the process of building something. We took a lot of steps forward; we’ve obviously taken a few steps back. I wanted to be fighting for the playoffs right now, but we’re not. But that doesn’t mean, day-in and day-out, pushing the best teams in this league. And that’s something we pride ourselves on.
"Obviously the results haven’t gone our way. Real men go in the locker room and find a way. We’re trying to build that. We’re trying to get our guys to respond like they did tonight... The game of soccer is cruel. We’ve had a pretty heavy dose of it this season. That said, it doesn’t matter. The game forgets quickly. We have to earn our stripes and tonight was a way of doing that."