Following successive draws in the first two matches of a 3-games-in-8-days stretch, the New England Revolution hoped to finally snatch all three points from the week’s final match. Their hope became reality on Saturday night at Gillette, as the Revs defeated a short-handed New York Red Bulls side 2-1 to pull even on points with their bitter rivals from the Big Apple.
The New Yorkers came out on the front foot with their high-pressing attack, seeking to gain an early advantage on the road. In the 7th minute, winger Vincent Bezecourt slammed a free kick from about 25 yards out that skimmed goalkeeper Matt Turner’s fingertips and bounced off the crossbar. A minute later, Bezecourt dispossessed Teal Bunbury in the Red Bull attacking half following a cleared New York corner kick. The Frenchman passed wide to midfielder Sean Davis, whose pinpoint cross into the box glanced off the head of Bradley Wright-Phillips and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Red Bull lead. It was New York’s league-leading 9th goal in the first 15 minutes of a match. With the Red Bulls owning a 6-1 record when scoring first, it sure seemed bleak for the home side, who were winless on the year when conceding first (0-4-2).
The Revs nearly answered four minutes later, though, as Kelyn Rowe blasted a short corner from Diego Fagundez that was saved by New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara on the near post. In the 22nd minute, Claude Dielna’s free kick from just outside and to the right of the 18-yard box was parried away by Meara. Five minutes later, Krisztian Nemeth nearly played Bunbury in on the keeper, but Meara was able to fall on the ball in front of the onrushing Revolution striker.
After a nearly-completed first half that saw the Revs hold edges in possession, corners, passing accuracy and shots on target, New England finally found an equalizer in stoppage time. A Revolution throw-in from the left touchline deep in the attacking half found the feet of Bunbury, who turned and sent the ball inside the top of the 18 to Nemeth. The Hungarian coolly flicked the ball to his right into space for Diego Fagundez, who made no mistake with a screaming volley that rattled the back of the net and knotted the match 1-1 at the break.
The second half saw back-and-forth action with few clear chances by either side until the final fifteen minutes. Wright-Phillips collected a headed ball by centerback Aurelien Collin at the top of the 18 and juggled it before firing over the crossbar in the 76th minute. Two minutes later, the Revs would get their game-winner. Midfielder Luis Caicedo muscled the ball away from Red Bull left back Kemar Lawrence near the end line just outside the 18 and fired it diagonally over the box to Cristian Penilla. The Ecuadorian charged toward the left side of the goal box and sent in a perfect pass across the face of goal that eluded Collin and found the right foot of Bunbury, who easily redirected it past Meara to give New England a deserved 2-1 lead. That score would stand, as a last-gasp New York corner kick in the final minute of second-half stoppage time was headed away by Caicedo just prior to the referee’s game-ending whistle.
With an eye toward Tuesday’s US Open Cup match, which kicks off a grueling three-away-matches-in-nine-days stretch, Revolution first-year manager Brad Friedel inserted some new faces into his 4-2-3-1 lineup. Starting centerback Claude Dielna slotted in at left back in place of Chris Tierney, who’s lost for the season due to a torn ACL suffered in the Revs’ midweek draw vs Atlanta United FC. Surprisingly, natural left back and occasional starter Gabriel Somi was left off the 18-man matchday roster. Antonio Delamea, fully recovered from a recent illness, handled centerback duties with Jalil Anibaba.
Alongside Luis Caicedo, Kelyn Rowe got the start in the defensive midfield in place of usual options Wilfried Zahibo and Scott Caldwell. Nemeth made his first start of the season at right wing before giving way in the 80th minute to Juan Agudelo, who finally made the bench after a long absence from a hamstring injury. Homegrown Zach Herivaux, recently returned from a productive friendly for the Haiti national team in Argentina, made his second league appearance of the season as a stoppage-time substitute for Fagundez.
Red Bull manager Jesse Marsch was without three starters due to international duty and, with an upcoming US Open Cup match, as well, against cross-town rival NYCFC, used a patchwork lineup and altered formation for his similar high-pressing tactics. Meara started in goal as injured Luis Robles continues to recover from a knee injury. Veterans Collin and Conor Lade filled in for national team call-ups Tim Parker (USA) and Michael Amir Murillo (Panama) on the backline. With Tyler Adams also away with the US national team, Marsch eschewed his usual 4-2-3-1 formation for a 4-1-3-2, with usual starter Davis as the sole defensive midfielder. Bezecourt slotted in at left wing for Daniel Royer, who came on as a second-half sub. Marsch used two forwards, lining up Haitian international Derrick Etienne next to Wright-Phillips.
This win by the Revolution snaps a three-match losing streak to New York. New England is now 30-26-15 all-time in the regular season against the Red Bulls, including 22-6-7 at home. New York falls to 2-4-1 on the road against the Revs since 2013.
Tonight’s victory by New England also ends the Red Bulls’ five-game unbeaten run. The Revs are now tied with New York for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, each owning 22 points. However, the Red Bulls have two games in hand.
New England is now 1-4-2 on the season when giving up the initial goal of the match. New York falls to 6-2 when scoring first.
The Revs are now 3-3-3 against Eastern Conference foes. The Red Bulls fall to 3-3-1 vs the East.
New England travels to Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday, June 5, to face USL-side Louisville City FC in the fourth round of the US Open Cup. The Revolution’s next league match is on Saturday, June 9, at Toyota Park against the Chicago Fire.