It’s safe to say that the Revolution will dwell on Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Whitecaps a little longer than usual -- and not just because of the upcoming bye week.
In a rare display of early firepower, the club scored twice inside of 20 minutes and appeared well on their way toward a rare road win with the score 2-0 and with time to score more.
Then, in the 23rd minute it all came to a crash after referee Juan Guzman issued a straight red card to Andrew Farrell for taking down Kenny Miller inside the area, and awarded a penalty to Vancouver.
Twenty minutes later, it was 3-2 Vancouver.
“That red card clearly changed the game,” Revolution defender Chris Tierney said after the game. “We liked our chances [at] 11 men, 2-0 up in 20 minutes and moving the ball well, creating chances.”
The Revolution’s performance in the opening 20 minutes was, indeed, something to behold. Although Heaps made only one change to his lineup (Kelyn Rowe replaced Juan Toja in the central midfield) from the 0-0 draw to D.C. a week previous, the attacking chances flowed and the offense was firing on all cylinders.
And it wasn’t just the fact they tallied twice in the first 20 minutes that proved the Revolution meant business when they stepped onto the pitch at BC Place. It was the manner in which New England put the Whitecaps' defense to the test that truly showed it had learned its lesson from the scoreless draw on June 8.
On Juan Agudelo’s 10th-minute goal, the Revolution went direct, with Chris Tierney launching one from the back before it fell to the Revolution forward, who slotted it through. Ten minutes later, they reverted back to a possession-oriented approach, and a sneaky, three-pass sequence that culminated in a goal from Rowe. It was a dynamic brand of attacking soccer that could’ve yielded even more goals before the half.
“It was some of the best stuff we’ve done this season,” Heaps told the media after game. “The first 20 minutes, I thought we were prepared, we were ready, (and) we were all over them.”
But once Guzman’s decisions on the red card and penalty were issued, the tides turned on the Revolution almost immediately.
Though there was little they could on Camilo Sanvezzo’s subsequent penalty strike, the Revolution defense, which had been especially stout all season, coughed up a pair of easy goals to Jordan Harvey and Kenny Miller in the 39th and 43rd minutes, respectively. Miller’s second goal of the game in the 68th minute put the game out of reach.
“To be fair to them, they scored some decent goals after,” Tierney said. “But we could have been a little better defensively and dealing with going a man down, weathering the storm, and keeping ourselves in the lead.”
Although the red card clearly changed the complexion of the game, Heaps couldn’t help but wonder what could’ve been had his club’s collective concentration been better in between Sanvezzo’s penalty and the halftime whistle.
“We really wish we had solidified things and played a little better in that time, a little more alert, a little more veteran-like in those few minutes,” Heaps said. “Unfortunately, we’re a younger team and we got rattled a bit.”