FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sixteen-year-old Diego Fagundez looked ready to steal the headlines, earning his first start and giving the New England Revolution the lead with his second career goal in the 35th minute, but it was defensive miscues that would end up being the story of the night again as they continue to cost the Revs points, this time resulting in a 2-1 loss to Seattle.
Despite often outplaying the visiting Sounders, New England’s inability to handle the counter attacks would cost them a chance to play spoiler, as the team was finally mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with the loss.
Playing in front of a crowd of 21,022, the defeat was the Revs' first to the Sounders at Gillette Stadium, having previously been 2-0-0 against Seattle in Foxborough.
Yet 35 minutes into the match, the Revs seemed in complete control and ready to pull off a shocking upset over the league’s second-place team. Fagundez’s goal -- a wide-open header off a Benny Feilhaber cross -- deservedly put the Revs ahead and capped a spell where the Revs outshot Seattle 9-1 to begin the match.
“I did the same exact play at practice [and scored],” said Fagundez. “The play is working, so I guess I should keep doing it.”
The Leominster, Mass., native, already the youngest player to make an appearance for the Revs, became the youngest player in Revolution history to start and to go 90 minutes.
“It was a fantastic header,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “[Fagundez] makes some good runs, nothing but positive things to say.”
But the lead was short lived. Just a minute later, defensive miscues would allow Seattle back into the game.
“I think we did some good things in the first half -- things we had been working on and had been talking about -- and we were able to get a goal as well,” said midfielder Benny Feilhaber. “We were going on the right path. A mistake [on Seattle’s first goal], obviously it happens -- it happened to me last game [in a 3-2 loss to Chicago]. This game Cochrane made a little bit of a mistake, but stuff like that has happened to us this year and it’s really plagued us.”
Another mistake would give Seattle the game winner under three minutes into the second half. A long ball from Seattle's Kasey Keller found David Estrada, who took a quick shot that hit off Chris Tierney and flew into the air. A.J. Soares allowed Nate Jaqua to beat him to the ball and flick it around Cochrane, where an onrushing Montero easily slotted it past Reis from close range for his second goal of the night.
“It’s unfortunate, but second half we didn’t really play the way we wanted to,” he said. “We didn’t do a lot of the things that we did well in the first half. ... Those kinds of mistakes that led to the second goal, that’s what has been killing us the whole year. It’s another story of mistakes haunting us.”
Part of the reason for those mistakes could be the constant changing of the center backs in the Revolution lineup. Last week, with Soares and Cochrane unavailable, Darrius Barnes and Franco Coria got the start; this week, Soares and Cochrane were back in the lineup. Mistakes between the center backs led to goals in both matches and the continual forced changes have hurt the team all season.
“Whoever has been in the back just hasn’t been able to form that partnership that you desperately need at this level,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “You need to be able to play together, you need to be able to practice together and we still haven’t been able to do that. It’s tough on these guys in the back. They work hard, they’re definitely committed to winning and they definitely give a full effort, but they just haven’t been able to get that partnership together.”
Now with just three games left and with no chance of the playoffs, building that partnership is more about preparing for next year than anything else.
“I think consistency breeds success and if you can stay consistent and keep the same guys in there then the fact that they’ve been in battles together, that they kind of can feed off each other, know where each other are, definitely helps,” said Reis. “But we’re all professionals and if your number is called and you’re supposed to step in there then we’ve got to do our job. It’s just kind of the way the season’s gone.”
Sean Donahue is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today, which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at email@example.com.