What might have been a very positive performance from the New England Revolution turned into a frustrating defeat as Jozy Altidore came off the bench to score the winner ten minutes from time, as the Reds took a 3-2 over the Revs.
New England started the game brightly as Teal Bunbury collected a pass on the right wing and used a deft touch to cut inside and eventually draw a penalty from TFC left back Chris Mavinga, who escaped a booking despite his scything challenge from behind. Carles Gil stepped up to the spot and buried the penalty kick and gave the Revs a 1-0 not even ten minutes into the game.
However a familiar sight occurred just five minutes later, as in the 14th minute Ayo Akinola danced through the entire right hand side of the Revs defense to fire home an equalizer past Brad Knighton to knot the game at 1-1. It was the first MLS goal for the TFC homegrown in what was also his first league start after a handful of cameo substitute appearances last year. The young striker was a handful all night, drawing several fouls including a dangerous one near the box, and really impressed on the ball in tight spaces throughout the evening.
Full chaos would reign right before halftime though, as Toronto FC netted a go-ahead goal in odd fashion, when Ayo Akinola latched on to a loose ball. His ensuing pass however found Jay Chapman at least five yards offside, however the AR put the flag down and the play resulted in Jordan Hamilton finishing off a neatly centered pass into an empty net.
The goal was awarded and stood upon review due to the fact that Revs defender Antonio Delamea’s outstretched leg had struck the ball. Though the touch had little affect on the ball or intended pass, this deliberate play on the ball by the rules was enough to negate the offside position and the goal stood.
Gil and the Revs took exception to this generally absurd ruling, leading to several New England players confronting Ted Unkel as the players retook the field for the second half. Gil was cautioned for dissent before the ball even kicked off to begin the second frame.
Gil would have his revenge on soccer’s lawbook and VAR when he tucked home his second of the match seven minutes after the restart. The New England DP picked up a ball that came through the entire penalty area and fired a shot that was likely on target, but also one TFC keeper Alex Bono had no chance on thanks to a wicked deflection off defender Auro.
The celebration of this will live in Revs GIF lore for all time:
However the Revs struggled to contain Akinola and the TFC offense for most of the night, and it was not a surprise when Jozy Altidore was summoned off the bench with twenty minutes to go that the substitution could spell trouble for New England. The Revs escaped in the 74th minute when a short free kick to a wide open Jonathan Osorio into a possible open net was blocked at full extension by Scott Caldwell.
Scott Caldwell gets some hate from afar, but I just don't get it.— Jonathan Sigal (@JonathanSigal) March 18, 2019
This block is laying it all out there for your hometown club. Could have been a multi-goal deficit if not for his recognition and effort. #NERevs #MLS pic.twitter.com/4qAkO4mA2Z
In the 80th minute is when that trouble again reared its head and Caldwell was not walking through that door to block this one. Michael Bradley chipped Justin Morrow into space, eliminating the Revs fullback support with one pass. The ball isolated the Revs centerbacks in a 3-v-2 situation and left Altidore all alone at the back post to fire home Toronto’s third and the eventual game winner.
After the goal, Brad Friedel turned to his bench to add Juan Fernando Caicedo and Cristian Penilla into the mix for the final minutes but a frantic comeback was not in the cards.
New England returns to Gillette Stadium for five of their next six games, beginning with expansion side Cincinnati FC next Sunday, March 24th at 4pm.