If the New England Revolution's disappointing 2016 season had a glimmer of hope and pride, it was the club's drive to the US Open Cup Final. A chance at silverware and a berth in the 2017-2018 CONCACAF Champions' League helped make up for true underachievement in the league.
FC Dallas, however, are among the class of the entire league, and they played like it on Tuesday night, handily dispatching the Revs by a score of 4-2. Juan Agudelo hit a brace, but in truth the match stopped looking close after the home team's first goal early in the first half.
The Revolution got off to a dream start in just the 6th minute. Gershon Koffie stripped Mauro Diaz in the Revs' attacking third, and after a quick exchange with Lee Nguyen, the midfield enforcer slapped a floor pass directly ahead to Juan Agudelo at the top of the box. Agudelo expertly turned his defender and fired past Chris Seitz to shock the home crowd.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the shock did not last long. The first of several moments of shambolic defending haunted the Revs as Je-Vaughn Watson found himself beaten to an early Diaz cross by Maximiliano Urruti, who watched the ball pop high into the air in front of him before drilling a volley past Brad Knighton to equalize in the 15th minute. Watson was entirely too lackadaisical and oblivious to Urruti's run, giving the Argentine forward the advantage he needed to get to the ball.
Dallas took the lead, then, in the 40th minute, again on a defensive gaffe. A corner kick was cleared out of the box but remained in the possession of the home side. A new cross was played in, and the Revolution defense sat flat-footed and ball-watching as Matt Hedges, possibly the tallest man on the pitch and one of the most dangerous crossing targets in MLS, dove all alone at the top of the six to head the ball home and make it 2-1 to Dallas.
The first half featured a great deal of stoppage time thanks to injuries to Koffie and Watson, and it was during that extended injury time that Dallas really opened the game up. Jose Goncalves was adjudged to have dragged down Matt Hedges in the box during a Dallas free kick – on replay, it was certainly a foul but it was the sort of thing that often goes uncalled – and Mauro Diaz stepped up to the spot. Knighton guessed the right side, but Diaz's penalty slipped beneath the keeper to make it 3-1 seven minutes into stoppage time.
Those aforementioned injuries forced Jay Heaps into some difficult moves far earlier than he would have liked. Kei Kamara was brought on when Je-Vaughn Watson could no longer continue, which would not have been such a big deal if it had been the second half, when Kamara was more likely to be introduced anyway. Koffie’s departure prompted the inclusion of Chris Tierney, whose dangerous crossing played a part in the second half, even if he did not pick up an assist.
The second half did not start much kinder for the Revolution, and Dallas made it largely a rout in the 61st minute. Scott Caldwell, who had a very forgettable game both passing and in possession, had his pocket picked rather easily at midfield, immediately beginning a Dallas attack. Urruti was played in on the break, splitting the central defenders and finishing coolly to Knighton's right.
New England showed some life in the second half, though, creating pressure and taking a goal back in the 73rd minute. The inclusion of Teal Bunbury appeared to inject some life into the attack, and it was his low driven cross that, after a slight deflection from Walker Zimmerman, was finished at the far post by Agudelo.
New England will return to action in MLS regular season action on September 17th against Montreal.