The absence of Jose Goncalves from the 18 brought about much curiosity before the game for the Revs. The absence of Kelyn Rowe in the midfield due to injury might have been more important.
The New England Revolution dropped their second straight game of 2014, losing 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park earlier today. Sebastien Le Toux's first half goal and a Zach MacMath 3-save shutout, including a brilliant stonewalling of Diego Fagundez, were enough for the Union who claimed their first win of the year and sit on four points with a 1W-0L-1D record. New England dropped to 0-2-0.
In the 24th, the Union had their first real chance as Leonardo Fernandes fired in a driven ball following a throw in. It came to Jack McInerney on the back post but his redirected effort was stopped by Bobby Shuttleworth and cleared by the Revs defense.
Shortly after that chance in the 31st minute, it was Fernandes again, a late replacement for the sick Brian Carroll, who shielded away a hard charging centerback Andrew Farrell and went in on goal. Le Toux made a late run to the center of the box and it was a simple pass and finish past a diving Shuttleworth (2 saves) who attempted to block the cross.
"I'll have to go back and look at it on film," said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps after the game via teleconference. "The first run we over committed a little bit defensively and allowed them to break into our eighteen. When that happens against good players they will take advantage of it and credit them for scoring a nice goal."
The Revolution had two great chances to score, both by Diego Fagundez. The young winger was played in by Teal Bunbury in the first half but his shot could not get past a diving MacMath, who had gone to full stretch to block the far side of the net. In the second half Fagundez unleashed a shot from outside the area that handcuffed MacMath but he was able to parry the shot over the endline for a corner.
For the second straight game the Revs rarely mustered any significant offense and when they did their finishing let them down. Fagundez's effort 1v1 against MacMath would have probably found the back of the net in 2013 but such is life in the new season for New England. The first half for the Revs was once again dreadful, allowing Philadelphia to control the game with 78% of the possession and equally poor passing numbers. The second half was better but still didn't generate the types of clear cut scoring chances the team thrived on last year.
Bobby Shuttleworth wasn't terrible in goal but aside from the save on McInerney offered more moments of uncertainty as the Revolution defense was scrambling early and often. The absence of Jose Goncalves who did not make the trip to Philadelphia was noticable although the backline of Tierney, Soares, Farrell and Barnes did rather well on the evening.
The Revolution will look for their first win of the season during their home opener of the 2014 season next week, March 22nd at 2PM against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
GONCALVES DOESN'T MAKE THE TRIP
It was odd to see that captain and reigning defender of the year Jose Goncalves not make the trip for New England, but during the game these ominous tweets from Ives Galarcep shed some light on the situation.
Where is Jose Goncalves? Sources tell me Heaps told Goncalves to (A) snap out of contract-unhappiness funk or (B) not play. He chose B. #MLS— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 15, 2014
The Heaps to Goncalves ultimatum did NOT go down today. Happened during the week. Defender of the Year clearly unhappy w/his contract— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 15, 2014
After the game however, Jay Heaps was non-committal about the subject:
"Our focus is to put the best players on the field to win this match," Heaps began, "We wanted to put the guys in the best position to win the game and that's what we did."
It's well known that Goncalves isn't happy about his current contract, his contract was bought following his loan spell from FC Sion of Switzerland and his option was exercised by New England during the offseason.
It appears the situation has reached a boiling point with the team, and given the Revs performance in the first game, a 4-0 thrashing in Houston, this does not bode well for them going forward. Andrew Farrell had some good moments playing center back today but was caught out on the Union's only goal. Veteran defender Darrius Barnes has shown well in both games this season but the Revs lack any continuity on the backline right now due to preseason injuries and now the lingering issue with Jose's contract.