After enjoying an early-season bye in Week 3 following their dramatic win over Colorado, the Revolution appeared to have all their ducks in a row to snatch three points at home from Eastern Conference-leading New York City FC. New England was at home and back to full strength, while NYCFC was forced to travel the short distance to Foxborough with a short-handed roster due to both injury and international duty. However, despite a dominant first half which saw several missed chances and a commanding 16-7 shot advantage by match end, the Revs had to settle for a 2-2 draw. Whether this speaks to the depth of NYCFC’s squad or to continued New England shortcomings (or both) remain to be seen. Nonetheless, to some, this might have felt like a loss.
For the first time this season, the Revs played primarily in a 4-4-1-1 with Diego Fagundez positioned behind center forward Teal Bunbury. Cristian Penilla was moved from left to right wing — favoring his dominant side — making room for Kelyn Rowe on the left. The backline saw two returnees, as Gabriel Somi slotted in a left back following injury and Claude Dielna to centerback after suspension. However, in a surprise move, veteran Jalil Anibaba was given the nod over Toni Delamea at the other centerback position, even though Delamea was also back from suspension. Once again, there was no sign of Lee Nguyen in the match day eighteen, despite his reportedly being back to full fitness. Newcomer Luis Caicedo not only made the bench, but he also saw his first MLS action as a late substitute for Bunbury.
The Revs came out flying from the opening whistle, employing a high press against an NYCFC club missing David Villa and a few other key players. Their pressure paid off in the 11th minute when, following a forced turnover, Fagundez found space just outside the 18 and laced a rocket off the post, eluding US International goalkeeper Sean Johnson to put the Revs up 1-0. While NYCFC maintained much of the possession (71% - 29% for the match), the Revs were the more physical team (24-11 in fouls for the match) and generated most of the chances in the first half. In fact, coach Brad Friedel said they probably should have tallied one or two more goals. Diego missed a sitter in the box, while Penilla clanged a blast off the post. Despite holding a 10-3 shot advantage, the Revs only led 1-0 at the break.
The pressure seemed to start taking its toll on New England’s energy level in the 2nd half, and NYCFC finally used its possession advantage to break through. An unmarked Ismael Tajouri, filling in for the injured Villa, slotted home his second goal of the season in the 51st minute to level the match at 1-1. The Revs restored their lead only a few minutes later when Penilla sent in a beautiful cross from the left that found the head of Juan Agudelo in the 63rd minute, opening his account for 2018. Agudelo had just entered the match for Kelyn Rowe a couple minutes earlier.
The Revs were unable to hold the lead again, as NYCFC found their second equalizer in the 75th minute. Midfielder Yangel Herrera threaded a pass through the New England backline to Tajouri, who blasted home his second of the match to knot the affair at 2-2. That’s how things would finish, as the Revs feel like an opportunity for a larger point haul fell short. Said Friedel, “I do feel like we had two points dropped today”.
The Revs take to the road for the second time this season as they face former MLS Cup nemesis Houston Dynamo on Saturday at 8:30.