At least it was a small crowd.
The weather kept many New England Revolution fans from making the trek to Gillette Stadium for Wednesday night's match against Real Salt Lake, but all they missed was a 2-1 loss that has to be considered a three point opportunity dropped. The Revolution had every chance to close the match out after going up early in the second half, but not even a soft-looking penalty call was enough to give them the win.
"It's a disappointing result," said head coach Jay Heaps after the match. "You fight, but we just gave away too much at the end, there, and a good team penalized us."
After a dismal first half, Ryan Guy - who, it must be said, had a pretty good match -put the Revs ahead with a well-placed volley in the second. It was all Salt Lake in the last 15-20 minutes, though, and in that span the visitors put two past Bobby Shuttleworth via Devon Sandoval and Olmes Garcia.
Still, despite going down late, the Revs were handed a golden opportunity to salvage a draw when referee Jose Carlos Rivero pointed to the spot and sent off Carlos Salcedo, apparently for a foul in the area. Substitute Saer Sene stepped up to take the penalty, but his execution was poor, telegraphing his low, left shot and allowing Nick Rimando an easy save.
"Lee Nguyen's our penalty kick taker," said Heaps. "Saer was our penalty kick taker last year, and he's coming back into form. He's taken a few, obviously, in training. It's a bad one. Not a bad penalty kick, but a bad spot to be in, in the 90th minute. It would have been good to have Lee in that spot."
Starting essentially the same group that took the field against Philadelphia at Gillette and won, head coach Jay Heaps would have been looking for that same sort of offensive performance that inspired a 2-0 win two weeks ago. Instead, he saw a first half that looked good defensively, but featured little by way of offense.
In the second half, his efforts to influence the game via substitution appeared to take the wind out of the Revs' sails. The inclusion of Sene for Diego Fagundez and Juan Toja for Lee Nguyen prompted a period of disorganization and slack passing from the Revs, and RSL was quick to take advantage.
"Quite frankly, I was disappointed," said Heaps. "We have a lot of games coming up. You want your substitutes to go in and bring the level up, and unfortunately we just couldn't get control of the ball. It wasn't good enough in the end."
The first goal saw Sebastian Velasquez get free on the right side of the box and fire in a low shot that Shuttleworth had to be at his absolute best to save. Unfortunately, the rebound was left in a dangerous spot, and Sandoval converted from just outside the six-yard box.
Twelve minutes later, in the 89th, a mix-up on a corner kick left Kyle Beckerman all alone at the top of the box. Directly from the delivery, he ripped a mesmerizing volley that a screened Shuttleworth did incredibly just to bat away. The rebound, however, fell to Garcia, who buried it to give RSL a late lead that would hold up.
The Revolution were better statistically in the second half than in the first, but Salt Lake were given all the room in the world to operate during that period. They dominated possession (58.4%) and completed a more than creditable 83% of their second-half passes. At the end of the day, they attempted 478 total passes to the Revs' 317 which, while obviously part of a counter-attacking strategy on New England's part, spoke to a level of freedom and dominance that RSL enjoyed in the midfield that was bound to bite the Revs in the end.
Another goal scored, though, brings the Revolution closer and closer to ending what still has to be characterized as an offensive rut. The team has scored just four goals (five including the own goal in New York) in their nine matches, and while they managed eleven shots tonight, only three found their way on target.
Goalscorer Ryan Guy, however, sees positives.
"I think today we showed some good stuff," he said. "We're finally getting some goals, and we've got to keep that going."
The Revolution will be back in action at home on Saturday night after a quick turnaround, welcoming the Red Bulls in a must-win Eastern Conference clash. For Guy, it represents an excellent chance to try and move on from this loss despite the short rest.
"There will probably be some changes [on Saturday]," said Guy. "There's going to be some tired legs, but more than anything it's another chance for us to get three points which we desperately need now."