For the first hour or so in Philadelphia, the New England Revolution barely tested former Rochester Rhinos keeper John McCarthy's goal.
But a flurry of second half substitutions from Jay Heaps finally gave the Revs attack the edge it needed as New England came from behind for a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.
Substitutes Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez both found the scoresheet, with Bunbury assisting on Charlie Davies equalizer in the second half before Bunbury put away the winner on a cross from Fagundez.
But it was actually the Union who found themselves in front right before halftime. In the 41st minute, Raymon Gaddis fouled Kelyn Rowe behind the play deep in the Union half, but referee Mark Geiger allowed advantage and play continued. After the Revolution lost possession, they expected Geiger to stop play and tend to the downed Rowe, but instead Maurice Edu surged forward past Scott Caldwell and eventually was fouled at the top of the Revs box by Jermaine Jones.
That set up a free kick from Cristian Maidana, and boy was it a beauty:
It was a back and forth first half, but that free kick finished off a lively spell for the Union who had numerous set piece chances in the final minutes before the goal. It wasn't a bad first half for New England, who managed six shots but zero on target. So Jay Heaps looked to change it up in the second half.
He brought on Chris Tierney for Kevin Alston at the hour mark and then Bunbury for Rowe a minute later, and it paid immediate dividends for the Revs.
Bunbury collected a pass from Revs debutant right back London Woodberry on the right flank, nutmegged Gaddis and then put a pinpoint ball to Davies on the back post who was wide open to slot home from near point blank range.
Davies was basically unmarked as three Union defenders were stacked straight across the top of the six yard box, and after Davies scored he wheeled around and revealed a "Happy Birthday Nina" message for his wife.
But the Revolution weren't finished yet, as they capped off a dominant spell of possession throughout the second half with their second goal. Diego Fagundez won an aerial duel that fell to Davies, who then sprung the winger down the open right flank. Fagundez then put in a centering cross and Bunbury beat Union right back Sheanon Williams to the ball and smashed home the winner past McCarty who was stuck in keeper no-man's land.
But the Union wouldn't go quietly, as they continued to give the Revs fits on set piece opportunities. Following an impressive save from Bobby Shuttleworth on Edu in the 77th minute, the ensuing corner kick had to be cleared off the line twice by Revs players with Lee Nguyen getting in the way the first time and Woodberry saving a sure goal on the rebound.
For Woodberry it capped off an impressive debut for the former FC Dallas homegrown player, who had a 94% passing clip to go along with his goal line clearance and several impressive crosses in the first half. He also drew a yellow card against Union striker Conor Casey who went through the back of the young defender after he had cleared away a cross inside the Revs penalty area. There were also long stretches where he was arguably the best offensive player for the Revs in the first half, making solid runs out of the makeshift backline to support the attack in the final third.
But it wasn't enough for the Union as the Revolution stretched their unbeaten run to five games with a 3-0-2 record after dropping their first two games to start 2015 and have now won three of the last four. The Revs now sit tied atop the Eastern Conference with 11 points, but both D.C. United and New York Red Bulls have games in hand on the Revs early in the season.
The next Revolution game will be at home, April 25 at 7:30PM, against Real Salt Lake.