For 12 straight home openers at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution came away with at least a point. 13 straight results however would prove to be too much and more performances like that at home will lead to a long season in New England.
The Columbus Crew claimed a 2-0 result thanks to a brace from Gyasi Zardes as the Revs had a second half penalty and potential equalizer saved by Zack Steffan.
New England started well in the first ten minutes, holding a possession edge but not really generating any chances towards goal. It was Columbus who scored on the first true chance of the game, when Pedro Santos burst forward and threaded a perfect cross over Revs defender Michael Mancienne for Gyasi Zardes to nod home in the 26th minute.
Armchair Analyst: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Columbus scored a classic Crew goal in their 2-0 win at New England – it's like Berhalter never left!https://t.co/lP1W5RQcEW— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) March 9, 2019
The Revs best chances in the first half all came in the final minutes, starting with a 42nd minute shot from Cristian Penilla that forced a smart cover from Steffan diving to his left. The second chance was actually not officially a shot, as Teal Bunbury fired a ball across the length of the box in the 43rd minute but no one was at the back post to turn in the goal. Edgar Castillo intercepted a pass in the final third and blazed a shot over the bar in the 45th minute for the Revs to close with some momentum.
A double change at halftime saw the Revs sub out two attackers, Diego Fagundez and debutant Justin Rennicks took up spots on the wings while Teal Bunbury went up top at striker. The Revs started the second half well and were rewarded with a couple of early free kicks, with Wilfried Zahibo drawing a penalty near the hour mark as Gaston Sauro held him back going for a lofted ball.
Fagundez stepped up and sent a decent effort to Steffan’s right, but the keeper was able to make the save and gather the high rebound to preserve the 1-0 Columbus lead.
For the rest of the second half, the Revs tried to put on pressure, with Rennicks and fellow rookie Tajon Buchanan trying their best to find the scoresheet late. New England were nearly reduced to ten men after Dave Gantar issued Brandon Bye a straight red card for an elbow to the head of Santos in the 86th minute but VAR overturned the red into a caution.
However with the Revs bombing forward in search of an equalizer, Zardes and the Crew countered and the Columbus striker took an easy pass from Hector Jimenez to slot home past Brad Knighton to seal the 2-0 win.
For New England, the result keeps them with a solitary point from two games to start 2019. There were bright spots, such as the rampant runs from Edgar Castillo from the left back spot as the Revs in the first half seemingly kept the ball on that half of the field. Rennicks and Buchanan didn’t look out of place though it was a conservative passing day from Rennicks as he mostly held the ball up on the right wing.