The New England Revolution could not have asked for a better start to their midweek game at MAPFRE Stadium. But not surprisingly, getting out to good starts have not been the issue for the Revs lately.
Lee Nguyen scored in the first minute only to be out done by Kei Kamara's brace as the Columbus Crew rallied for a decisive 2-1 victory Wednesday night and cemented the return of the annual summer swoon for the Revolution.
In the opening seconds, Daigo Kobayashi won a loose ball in the midfield that found Kelyn Rowe, who calmly found Nguyen in the middle of the field. With no defender stepping up on him with Emanuel Pogatetz out of position covering Rowe, Nguyen dribbled forward and fired from distance to beat Crew keeper Steve Clark for his first goal from the run of play this season. It was also Lee's first goal since a penalty kick against Colorado back on April 4th.
But the lead would be short lived, as New England would immediately concede at the other end as Kei Kamara powered a header from a Federico Higuain shot that had caromed of the crossbar. Five minutes into the game it was 1-1 and the wide open play was expected to lead to more goals.
But the game settled into a game of mostly half chances, usually from Columbus who dominated the possession as the Revolution struggled to string passes together. The Revolution's best chances however came in the 25th minute as Kelyn Rowe collected a errant clearance but was judged to have committed a foul on Waylon Francis in the process and the breakaway was nullified by center referee Fotis Bazakos.
In the 36th minute, left back Chris Tierney split two defenders and centered for Scott Caldwell who tried to redirect the ball to the far post but was unable to put much power behind the shot, allowing Clark to smother it. Despite these chances, it was mostly the Higuain and Kamara show up front as the two big Crew playmakers were in top form. Bobby Shuttleworth was lucky to not concede a second he saved a Higuain shot that rebounded to Kamara only for the MLS's leading scorer to find the side netting in the 18th minute. Later in the half Shuttleworth had to parry a Kamara shot over the bar for a corner as the Crew pressured the Revs throughout the half.
With the Revs playing a congested schedule, Jay Heaps opted to sub out Juan Agudelo for Charlie Davies at the half to give both star attackers at least one half of rest. But in the opening minute of the second frame the Revs nearly conceded as Justin Meram flashed a header over the bar following a pass from Higuain.
Calamity would ensue prior to the Crew second goal. A minute before, Andrew Farrell appeared to block a ball with his arm though at such a close range and unable to react, Bazakos waved off a penalty. In the 50th minute, Ethan Finlay would trap a cross from Francis and appear to use his arm to complete the move before finding Kamara wide open inside the six yard box. Despite a vigorous and dissent worthy protest from Shuttleworth that earned the keeper a caution, the goal stood and the Revs trailed 2-1 early in the half.
With the Revs chasing the game, the chippy affair finally boiled over late into the second half as Bazakos dished out six cards down the stretch including five to Columbus. Former Revs defender Michael Parkhurst took down Charlie Davies at midfield and earned a caution for a tactical foul in the 63rd. A pair of off the ball fouls earned delayed yellows to Pogatetz and Francis in the 79th and 86th respectfully. Andy Dorman went in studs first looking to keep a ball away from Kamara and while the contact was minimal he was cautioned for leading with his studs, his 8th of year and his second accumulation suspension as well.
With the Revs only able to produce a few half chances, Kelyn Rowe, Nguyen and Tierney all having decent looks but firing off target in the late stages, the Revs dropped to a 6-6-6 record overall and while they still sit in second place, most of the teams in the Eastern Conference have games in hand. Columbus' record now stands at 5-6-5, four points behind the Revs but with two games in hand. The Revs also continued a trend of blowing leads, and the amount of points lost in these games is staggering.
The Revolution return home to face the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday June 27th at Gillette Stadium.