Parkhurst, who spent four years in New England (2005-2008) before departing for Danish side FC Nordsjaelland, returned to MLS in January. But even though the Revolution had the first crack at signing the 2007 MLS Defender of the Year, the organization took a different course of action.
“At the time, you’re trying to assess the situation for what it is,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “Where we were with our back line, where we were from a salary cap standpoint, and where we were in the draft, all three of those things weighed into getting a first-round pick and getting a significant amount of money.”
With center back Jose Goncalves coming off a Defender of the Year-caliber campaign, and the amount of money the club invested to bring him back for a second season, the front office decided to trade Parkhurst, who would be commanding $300,000 for the 2014 season.
In addition to saving on costs, the trade netted them additional funds in the form of allocation money, as well as Steve Neumann -- who the Revolution drafted with the fourth overall pick.
Heaps, who played on the same back line as Parkhurst for four years, said he wasn’t excited at the prospect of trading away his former teammate.
“He’s a great player and someone that was a teammate of mine,” Heaps saId. “He’s someone that I respect all the way around. Those decisions are never easy, but you try to weigh them to the best of your ability at the time.”
Soares at holding midfielder?
Earlier this month, the Revolution were forced into a corner after starting midfielder Andy Dorman was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. And the player who stepped in to fill the void certainly raised some eyebrows.
Although Scott Caldwell spent much of last season inhabiting the holding midfielder’s spot, Heaps went against the grain. Instead of Caldwell, Heaps tabbed center back A.J. Soares despite the fact that the fourth-year defender had never played the position during his professional career.
“You try and find the right pieces that we feel is best for each game,” Heaps said, “and usually game tactics and where we feel the player could best benefit (are factored).”
To date, Soares has filled the holding midfielder’s spot twice: at Salt Lake (July 4) and at Los Angeles (July 16) after Dorman was shelved with an MCL sprain. Soares received a red card during the 5-1 loss at Los Angeles, allowing Caldwell to reclaim his spot, at least temporarily, at Dallas last Saturday.
On paper, another candidate who appeared to be a possible replacement was center back Stephen McCarthy, who entered the league as a holding midfielder as a rookie in 2011. However, he said he hasn’t had discussions with Heaps about reprising the role.
But even though the notion hasn’t been discussed in light of Dorman’s injury, Heaps didn’t dismiss the possibility of putting McCarthy into the role at some point in the future.
“We always assess a lot of those roles and it also matters how a player’s playing, the form their in and what they can bring physically at the time, and where they are in our assessment,” Heaps said.
Davies would love to play at Fenway
Revolution forward Charlie Davies will be at Wednesday’s Liverpool-AS Roma friendly at Fenway Park, and is interested to see how the dynamics of playing on a baseball field play out for the European powerhouses.
When asked what he thinks about the idea of playing at the historic ballpark with his Revolution teammates, the Manchester, N.H., native gave his full support.
“I think it’d be awesome to see how that would work out,” Davies said. “Fenway Park is legendary. I think it’d be an awesome thing to have once a season.”
Three days after watching his side get thrashed by the Galaxy, coach Jay Heaps made five changes to his starting XI. Exit Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez and Patrick Mullins. Enter Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes, Scott Caldwell, Steven Neumann and Charlie Davies.
While the switches didn’t exactly clear the path to three points, Heaps nevertheless was pleased with what he saw from those who were called into action in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas.
“I think the guys that we inserted added a nice level of intensity,” Heaps told reporters after the match. “In that regard, we were happy, but just absolutely gutted by the result.”
The loss may have sent the Revolution to their seventh straight trip to the loss column, but it wasn’t for lack of energy or ambition, two things missing during Wednesday’s 5-1 drubbing. Heaps’ squad opened the match with a measured and precise approach, putting Dallas on its heels early.
Between the fifth and 10th minutes, the guests grabbed 70.4 percent of the possession. With the passing crisp and the tempo calm, it was all but a certainty that an early goal would come.
But that goal would belong to the hosts. Off a quick restart in the middle third, Adam Moffat played it forward to Tesho Akindele, who ripped a shot of the crossbar. Andres Escobar quickly reclaimed the ball, went to the near post and buried it as the Revolution conceded the opening goal in their seventh straight game.
“Quite frankly, I didn’t think it was a foul on our guy,” Heaps said of Lee Nguyen’s foul that led to the quick restart. “I thought it was a foul on their guy -- ball was moving and they played it quickly, and credit the play -- one ball through, and then they stayed in that positive way, and it was a good goal.”
Escobar’s goal could have sent the Revolution into another early tailspin. Instead, they recommitted their efforts, despite a number of frustrating moments in the final third.
“I thought we were going to be good enough to get something from the game, and we didn’t,” Heaps said. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
New England continued to take care of the ball and moved it around the midfield with greater frequency. It was a stark departure from Wednesday’s match.
But energy and effort weren’t enough to get the Revolution over the hump. Their form in the final third only betrayed their efforts. Although the Revolution tipped the overall possession in their favor (55.4 percent), Dallas outshot them 24-9. More importantly, two of those 24 found the back of the net.
No doubt, it was a markedly improved showing for the Revolution. A late surge tested the Dallas back four, but the only goal that came belonged to the hosts after Akindele scored in the 91st minute.
“In terms of what we did tonight, in terms of energy and effort, it was a great bounce back for us,” Heaps said. “We made one mistake in the first half, and we got punished for it.”
Andres Escobar became the latest to victimize the Revolution early and scored his second goal of the season in the 29th minute. Tesho Akindele put the game away in the 90+2 minute with his second goal of the season. Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez was barely tested and collected his first clean sheet of the season.
The Revolution have now lost seven straight, the longest streak in MLS this season. The win extends Dallas' unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2).
What it means: After posting one of their worst all-around performances Wednesday, the Revolution cleaned up many of the mistakes that plagued them in Los Angeles. Early on, they looked comfortable, with the panicked play seen Wednesday nothing more than a fading memory. But it wasn't all butterflies and rainbows for the Revolution. A quick Dallas restart paved the way for Escobar to put it past Bobby Shuttleworth at the near post, while the Revolution offense struggled to file a reply. Simply put, the Revolution lacked the execution in the final third to test Fernandez, who needed just three easy saves to seal the victory for Dallas. About the only thing working in the Revolution's favor at the present moment is a home date against the floundering Crew (0-3-4 in the past seven) on Saturday.
Stat of the match: Steve Neumann fired the Revolution's first shot on goal in the 83rd minute, a surefire sign of his squad's struggles inside the final third.
Heaps rolls out revamped lineup: Three days after watching his side suffer a 5-1 loss in Los Angeles, Revolution coach Jay Heaps made a number of changes to the starting XI for Saturday's match. Among the most notable included the additions of Stephen McCarthy (center back), Steve Neumann (outside midfielder) and Charlie Davies (striker), all of whom earned their first starts of the season. Meanwhile, Scott Caldwell (defensive midfielder) saw his name penciled into the lineup for the first time since March 15.
On the flip side, hamstring tightness kept Jose Goncalves on the bench, while AJ Soares served his red card suspension. Patrick Mullins, Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez were not listed on the injury report and were presumably dropped from the lineup following their unspectacular performances Wednesday.
Tierney serves as captain: With Goncalves unable to start, veteran left back Chris Tierney wore the armband against FC Dallas. It was the first time Tierney had served as captain since March 15 at Philadelphia.
Back to Foxborough: The Revolution will be back home on July 26, when they host old friend Michael Parkhurst and the Columbus Crew. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The contest will be Parkhurst's first against the Revolution, who drafted him in the first round of the 2005 SuperDraft. The Providence, Rhode Island, native spent four years in New England (2005-08), where he won Rookie of the Year (2005) and Defender of the Year (2007) before departing for an opportunity abroad with Danish side Nordsjælland.
The Revolution enter Saturday’s match anxious to erase the memories of a 5-1 thrashing they took from the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday at the StubHub Center. The match not only extended the team’s losing streak to six, but the five goals conceded marked the most the Revolution have given up in more than four years.
On the flip side, Dallas is not only unbeaten in its past four (2-0-2), but will be well-rested going into Saturday’s match. In their last league match back on July 4, the Hoops grabbed a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in front of the home crowd.
With the Revolution anxious to end their streak, and Dallas aiming to extend its run, here’s what to watch for during Saturday’s clash in FC Dallas Stadium.
Tired legs not the primary concern for Revolution: Saturday’s duel with Dallas will be the third game of an eight-day span that will see the Revolution rack up nearly 11,000 air miles before they return back to Boston. Naturally, coach Jay Heaps will need to manage his team accordingly. But according to the third-year coach, the bigger challenge is getting his players’ minds off of Wednesday’s loss.
“It’s more psychological,” Heaps told the media on Friday. “Everyone was down after the game, and rightfully so. We should be, because it was a terrible performance across a lot of sectors. Today, it was more about anger, more about getting back up and saying ‘Let’s get back after it.’”
Who’ll get the call at defensive midfielder?: For the second straight game, Heaps will be forced to shuffle his lineup to accommodate the gaping hole at the six spot. After Andy Dorman suffered an MCL sprain in last weekend’s contest against Chicago, A.J. Soares was given the start on Wednesday. But a 29th-minute red card will make Soares a bystander for Saturday’s match while he serves his one-match ban. Without Dorman or Soares available, Heaps could tab Scott Caldwell, who manned the holding midfielder’s spot last year, against Dallas. Another option: defender Andrew Farrell, who saw time at the spot during the preseason.
Opportunity on the horizon for reserves?: With many regulars already weary from the travel, as well as the high-paced tempo of Wednesday’s match, Heaps will likely ask his some of his backups to step up on Saturday. After watching his defense get torched for five goals, Heaps might call upon defenders Kevin Alston and Stephen McCarthy to strengthen the rear. In the midfield, substitute Steve Neumann may have played himself into consideration for a start. Up top, Jerry Bengtson and Charlie Davies may be in line for minutes given the lack of production seen from Patrick Mullins as of late.
“You’re always trying to find the right pieces,” Heaps said. “But at the same time, there are guys who deserve an opportunity because certain guys aren’t getting it done.”
Will Heaps go with the 4-4-2 formation again?: Looking for any opportunity to provide his team with a much-needed spark, Heaps scrapped the customary 4-1-4-1 for the more traditional 4-4-2 formation on Wednesday. While the early returns weren’t exactly positive, the early red card to Soares robbed the Revolution of an opportunity to get fully acclimated to it. Whether Heaps sticks with the four-man midfield, or reverts back to a five-man look, all depends upon who mans the six spot. If it’s Caldwell, expect the Revolution to return to the 4-1-4-1. If it’s Farrell, the 4-4-2 may get another look on Saturday.
Keeping the right perspective: A six-game losing streak isn’t exactly a confidence booster by any means, but to say that the season is doomed for the Revolution is a stretch. Despite their recent woes, the Revolution remain above the red playoff line. Plus, with plenty of parity in the East this year, the conference standings have remained in flux for much of the season. Sure, the Revolution haven’t exactly performed like contenders in recent weeks. But it’s far too early to start making funeral arrangements.
“There’s a lot of games left to play, so you just have to stay positive,” Nguyen told the media on Friday. “You just have to keep pushing through and know that you just have to keep fighting.”
With Andy Dorman sidelined for the next 10-12 weeks, and New England's offense struggling to score since late May, the Revolution coach scrapped the 4-1-4-1 formation in favor of a 4-4-2 against one of the hottest teams in the league -- and at their home park.
But even though the tactical switch yielded a handful of chances in the first half, the second half proved to be another story for the Revolution, who were forced to stomach a 5-1 loss at the StubHub Center.
"We practice it and thought it was a good time to try a 4-4-2 with a diamond shape," Heaps told the media after the match. "With the personnel we had, we thought there were times in the game early on where we had chances in the run of play."
The first opportunity the Revolution found came in the eighth minute when Lee Nguyen played it quick off a restart inside the Galaxy end, finding Teal Bunbury, who chipped Jaime Penedo before A.J. DeLaGarza cleared it off the line.
But after Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes tallied in the 10th and 18th minutes, respectively, the game was quickly slipping out of the Revolution's grasp. Making matters worse: a 29th-minute red card to AJ Soares left the guests with 10 men.
With nothing to lose, the Revolution caught the Galaxy on their back heel in the 36th minute. Diego Fagundez guided a perfect ball into the path of Bunbury, who briefly corralled it inside the box before he was brought down by Dan Gargan. A penalty was awarded, and Gargan was sent off, giving the Revolution new life.
After Nguyen converted the penalty, the Revolution had to feel good about their chances for the second half. Sure, Soares' ejection sealed the new formation's fate before the half-hour mark. But according to Kelyn Rowe, the squad's spirits were high going into halftime.
"There was a little momentum swing at the end of the first half," Rowe told the media after the match. "We came in here thinking we can put some tactics together of where we want to play, and how we want to play with 10 men, 10-on-10, and we looked to go find another goal, because we needed to."
But dialing up the appropriate shape for the second half proved to be elusive. Three minutes after the break, Zardes scored his second goal to reclaim his team's two-goal lead in the 48th minute. And it didn't get much better for the guests from there.
The Revolution searched for answers, but they were nowhere to be found. Stefan Ishizaki's 75th-minute strike padded the lead, while Keane's second in the 78th minute only served to humiliate the Revolution further.
"We tried to find that first goal coming out of the second half and it didn't happen," Rowe said, "and from there you are chasing the game again, further and further, and pushing numbers. Obviously when you push numbers, you are susceptible to the counter, and they took advantage of that and put five on us."
While the first-half red cards posed an unexpected challenge for both coaches, Heaps said that the revamped formation wasn't the reason behind his team's poor showing on Wednesday.
"Our forwards did a good job battling," Heaps said. "But defensively, if you are going to leak goals, it doesn't matter what formation you are in."
Robbie Keane opened the scoring in the 10th minute and capped it in the 78th minute, while Gyasi Zardes also found the back of the net twice, in the 18th and 48th minutes. Stefan Ishizaki joined Keane and Zardes on the scoresheet with a goal of his own in the 75th minute. The lone measure of success from the guests came on a Lee Nguyen 38th-minute strike from the spot after Teal Bunbury was brought down inside the box by Dan Gargan.
A.J. Soares was sent off in the 29th minute, while Gargan was issued a red card of his own in the 37th minute for denying Bunbury of a goal-scoring opportunity in the play that led to Nguyen’s penalty strike. As a result, both sides finished with 10 men.
With the loss, the Revolution remain stuck on 23 points (7-9-2), where they’ve been since late May, while the Galaxy ran their mark to 7-3-6 and extended their unbeaten streak to eight (5-0-3).
What it means: The first-half gremlins that have haunted the Revolution since late May were back on Wednesday, with two goals falling into New England’s net before the 20th minute. Nguyen’s goal gave his squad a dose of hope going into halftime, but Zardes’ second goal of the game put the Galaxy back in command, with Ishizaki and Keane piling it on late. Prior to the match, the Revolution spoke about approaching Wednesday’s match with a clean slate, as it coincided with the start of the second half of the regular season. Yet it’s safe to say that the Revolution are going to need much more than a renewed mindset to shake off their slumping form, which has seen them drop from the top of the conference to teetering on the red playoff line.
Stat of the match: The 5-1 loss marked the second time this season the Revolution have suffered a four-goal margin of defeat. In the season opener, the Houston Dynamo handed the Revolution a 4-0 loss.
New-look Revolution: After watching his squad’s offense produce only two goals in their last five games, Revolution coach Jay Heaps decided to switch to a 4-4-2 formation against the Galaxy. The most notable changes within the formation: a diamond midfield that featured Diego Fagundez as the central attacking midfielder, while Patrick Mullins as paired with Teal Bunbury up top.
Soares takes over for Dorman at D-Mid: With Andy Dorman shelved for at least the next 10-12 weeks with an MCL sprain, A.J. Soares filled in at defensive midfielder for the second time in the Revolution’s last three games. The fourth-year center back earned his first start in the midfield on July 4 at Salt Lake, a game that Dorman was forced to sit out due to suspension. But Soares’ night came to a premature end after he was red carded for a studs-up challenge on Juninho in the 29th minute.
Nguyen returns and scores: Revolution leading scorer Lee Nguyen was back in the lineup on Wednesday after missing last week’s match against the Fire while serving a one-game suspension. Nguyen was suspended for stomping on John Stertzer during the Revolution’s 2-1 loss to Salt Lake on July 4. But in his first game back from the ban, Nguyen collected his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
On to Big D: The Revolution will look to get back in the saddle on Saturday against FC Dallas at FC Dallas Stadium. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET. The interconference clash will mark the only time the MLS originals will meet during the regular season. Last year, the Revolution dropped a 1-0 home loss to Dallas on March 30.
The Revolution enter the match reeling from a five-game losing streak, with their latest setback coming in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire last Saturday. The loss not only prolonged the Revolution’s misery, but also brought their mark below .500 (7-8-2, 23 points).
While the Revolution find themselves in choppy waters, it’s been smooth sailing for the Galaxy, who enter Wednesday’s match unbeaten in their last seven (4-0-3). Last Saturday, they edged Salt Lake 1-0 in a game that saw Marcelo Sarvas score the winner in the 20th minute.
The midweek match will mark the first time since last June that the MLS originals have met. Revolution supporters remember the match fondly, as their squad blasted the defending champions 5-0 at Gillette Stadium.
Here’s what to watch for in a contest that’ll pit two squads currently traveling on opposite routes within their respective conferences:
Putting the past behind them. How does a team that’s lost its last five overcome its struggles? Well, one approach is to focus on the future, which is exactly what the Revolution are doing in their preparations for Wednesday’s contest. With the second half of the season upon them, their clash against the Galaxy is being viewed in the same light as a season opener rather than a run-of-the-mill midseason battle.
“Obviously, we’ve had some results that we’re not proud of,” Revolution forward Patrick Mullins told revolutionsoccer.net on Monday. “But I think we’re going to scratch and claw to make sure that we get the results that we need going into the last half of the season.”
Life without Dorman. One of the keys to the Revolution’s success prior to their recent struggles was the stout play of Andy Dorman, who brought much-needed bite to the six spot this season. But after suffering a potential season-ending MCL sprain during last weekend’s match, the Revolution have no choice but to make due without their steady veteran. Sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell is the favorite to slide into Dorman’s spot, while center backs A.J. Soares and Andrew Farrell may both figure into the equation as well. Regardless of who steps in at holding midfielder, Dorman’s performance during the first half will be a tough act to follow.
Galaxy a clear and present danger. For all the talk about Galaxy poster boys Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, the fact is that Bruce Arena’s club is one of the most balanced sides in the west. Sure, Keane and Donovan have combined for 10 goals and 8 assists so far this season. But don’t overlook the Galaxy defense, which is allowing less than a goal per game this season. With solid contributions coming from both ends of the pitch, it should come as no surprise that their plus-7 goal differential is second only to the plus-11 number owned by first-place Seattle.
“They’re a quality team,” Mullins said. “They’ve got great attacking players that can hit you all over the field, with Keane up top obviously is the main guy you’d focus on.”
Will Bengston be back for more? Not a whole lot went right for the Revolution during their 1-0 loss to the Fire last weekend, but there were positives to be drawn. One of the most notable was the performance of high-priced, yet rarely-used striker Jerry Bengtson, who came on in the 65th minute to help spur the offense. And that’s precisely what he did. Lurking in the final third, the Honduran created opportunities for his teammates in the waning stages, not the least of which was drawing an 84th-minute penalty. Though the Revolution failed to convert from the spot, Bengtson nevertheless made a strong case for additional minutes.
Embracing the underdog role. Prior to the season, the Revolution were the trendy pick for playoff success. With plenty of young talent and a system that played to their strengths, many were predicting big things for the local XI this season. To no one’s surprise, the club’s five-game losing streak has quieted the praise, which is just fine for the club’s youngest player, Diego Fagundez.
“Nobody’s talking about us right now,” Fagundez told revolutionsoccer.net on Monday. “But we just have to go out there, play our hardest, make sure we’re there to play and make sure we get some points from there.”
Four days after the MLS summer transfer window opened, Burns spoke about the possibility of adding to the roster, which currently has two open spots. To no one’s surprise, Burns kept his cards close to the vest -- or to complete the metaphor, the oversized hooded sweatshirt.
“We’re looking at a player, or possibly two, in this window,” Burns said prior to Saturday’s Revolution-Fire match. “We’ve had some discussions to this point, but there are a couple of areas on the field that we’re looking to strengthen.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because, well, Burns essentially said the same thing during the winter window. And what he said during the winter window mirrored what he said the previous summer, which is what he ostensibly detailed -- well, you get the idea.
A particular area of concern for the Revolution this summer is up top, where rookie Patrick Mullins has shown promise, but hasn’t always answered the bell. Another spot Burns may look to bolster is the right side of the midfield, where the Revolution haven’t gotten nearly enough from Teal Bunbury.
Yet, when pressed for specifics, Burns showed no inclination to reveal which positions he felt needed to be strengthened. Instead, he stayed behind the sunglasses and hat, which he’ll likely keep for the time being, or until a target signs on the dotted line.
“I’d rather not say publicly,” Burns said. “We’ve identified a couple of positions that we’re looking to strengthen is the best I can say.”
But Burns did offer some insight into the club’s player acquisition plans for the summer window, which will remain open until Aug. 6.
For starters, Burns said that none of the players who have trialed with the team at various points during the season are being targeted at this point.
Another nugget Burns was willing to share: The players in question are both well-known to the front office and coaching staff.
“We have a couple of different scenarios right now that we’re looking at,” Burns said. “But they are players that we’ve monitored for a while.”
Whether the Revolution acquire one or two players, or leave the roster completely untouched, one thing that Burns hopes to see, above all else, is a steadier performance during the second half of the season.
“We’ve played really well, and times, we’ve struggled a little bit,” Burns said. “So we’re looking to add a guy that can come in, and hopefully can help us find a little more consistency because we’re going need that in the second half of the year.”
But even if negotiations break down with a prospective target or two between now and early August, Burns still has faith in the players already on the roster.
“There’s enough confidence within this group that we’re good enough and can compete with any team, but we haven’t shown it week in and week out,” Burns said. “That’ll be what we hope to address and change for the second half of the season, whether it’s just with the guys we have, or whether we bring in some guys that hopefully can add to that.”
In match dominated by the hosts, who put together nearly 500 passes, fired 23 shots and gathered 62.5 percent of the possession, the only number that mattered was the one posted on the scoreboard, which favored the opportunistic Fire 1-0 when the final whistle sounded.
"It's really frustrating," Revolution right back Andrew Farrell said. "You think you have the momentum and the flow of the game, and you think you're going to get something."
All signs seemed to point the Revolution getting something -- anything -- from Saturday's conference clash. An argument could be made that they deserved three points, but given the four-game losing streak the Revolution were tethered to entering the match, a single point would've sufficed.
But what prevented the Revolution from collecting points for the fifth straight game is purely attributable to an ongoing problem. Namely, another poor start.
Less than three minutes into the match, Jeff Larentowicz regained possession for the Fire in the midfield, and played it forward to Mike Magee. The Fire forward dribbled ahead before releasing Quincy Amarikwa in the box, where he fought off Farrell and chipped it through to put the Revolution into another early deficit.
"The backline and the team as a whole have been giving up some sloppy goals and that just puts us behind," Farrell said. "Once you make a mental mistake like that, (it) puts the whole team behind, and I'll take the blame for that."
Farrell may have stepped up to take responsibility for Amarikwa's goal, but he and his teammates didn't let their misfortune get in the way of recommitting themselves to the attack.
Even without leading scorer Lee Nguyen, who was suspended for Saturday's game, the Revolution uncovered plenty of chances -- chances that showcased the Revolution's firepower even without Nguyen.
In the 35th minute, Diego Fagundez played a cross intended for Teal Bunbury at the near post. But even though Bunbury couldn't reach it, the ball fell to the far post, where Daigo Kobayashi poked it just wide.
The second half saw the Revolution uncover more chances to put the match on level terms. Kelyn Rowe sent a corner kick near post for Patrick Mullins, who sent his header just over the bar. Not long after, Chris Tierney stepped up and sent a free kick from 20 yards that Sean Johnson left his feet to deny in the 65th minute.
Undaunted, the Revolution continued to improve their chances as the game progressed. The addition of substitutes Jerry Bengtson and Steve Neumann bolstered the attack, as the Fire did all they could to hang on for dear life.
"I thought we definitely had more chances, so it was a little bit of a change to a 3-5-2 (formation)," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "It helped out our attack and it would've been nice to punch one in there."
Late in the match, it appeared the Revolution were about to do just that. Bengtson chased down a long pass from Tierney into the box, and was felled by defender Gonzalo Segares. A penalty was awarded and, at last, it appeared that the Revolution would get the goal that eluded them all night.
"I thought it was well-deserved," Heaps said. "I thought it was earned and we were trying and we were doing everything we could."
Tierney uncorked a powerful shot from the spot toward the left post that was ticketed for the back of the net. But Sean Johnson made an acrobatic save to deny it, then quickly grabbed the rebound right off the line to seal the Revolution's fate, as cruel as it was.
But even though the Revolution ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the fifth straight game, Heaps credited his players' efforts, which nearly led them to their first point since May.
"No one gave up and that's for darn sure," Heaps said. "To earn a penalty kick in the 86th minute with a team that's bunkered in, it's not easy. You're trying to probe and pick teams apart, and it's unfortunate."
Quincy Amarikwa scored in the third minute to put the Revolution on their back heel early, while Sean Johnson collected his second clean sheet of the season. The Revolution found a prime opportunity to equalize from the spot in the 85th minute, but Chris Tierney's shot was denied by Johnson, who preserved the win for his side.
The loss marked the Revolution's fifth in a row, while their record fell below .500 (7-8-2, 23 points). The win allowed the Fire to put the skids on a six-game winless streak (0-2-4), while boosting their mark to 3-4-10 (19 points).
What it means: While Tierney certainly shouldn't be scapegoated for the Revolution's fifth straight loss, his penalty miss was indicative of his team's fortunes on Saturday. After conceding another early goal, they looked keen to equalize in the second half, with opportunities falling to Patrick Mullins and Teal Bunbury. But the Revolution's inability to finish their chances -- an ongoing issue during their five-game losing streak -- once again undermined them against the Fire, who collected only their third win of the season in the process. At some point, the Revolution will figure it out, and find a way to break out of their scoring woes. But conceding early, which put the burden on the offense to respond, certainly didn't work to their advantage for the fifth straight week.
Stat of the match: The third-minute goal from Amarikwa was the sixth first-half goal conceded by the Revolution in their last five. During that span, the Revolution have scored only a single first-half goal.
Dorman returns, but exits early: After serving his one-game suspension against Real Salt Lake, holding midfielder Andy Dorman was back in the lineup. But his night ended prematurely after he suffered a right knee injury midway through the first half. The incident occurred when Bakary Soumare barreled into him just as he was attempting to take a shot from outside the area in the 25th minute. He initially tried to play through the pain, but four minutes later, he had to be helped off the field, with Scott Caldwell taking his spot.
Nguyen's suspension opens door for Rowe: With Lee Nguyen serving a one-game suspension for stomping on John Stertzer in last week's game at Salt Lake, Kelyn Rowe started at Nguyen's spot in the central midfield, and went 65 minutes before giving way to Jerry Bengtson. Last week, Rowe started on the right side of the midfield against Salt Lake.
Bengtson's back: Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson, back from World Cup duty with Honduras, made his first appearance in MLS action since April 27 vs. Sporting Kansas City. Bengtson came on in the 65th minute for Rowe, but failed to register a shot.
Going back to Cali: The Revolution hit the road for a midweek match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 10:30 p.m. ET. Wednesday's contest will be the sole meeting between the MLS originals. The last time they met, the Revolution thrashed the Galaxy 5-0 on June 2, 2013 at Gillette Stadium.
The Revolution enter the match losers of their last four in league action, with a 2-1 loss at Salt Lake on July 4 marking their most recent setback. Making matters worse, they were eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup following a 2-0 quarterfinal defeat to the Union on Tuesday.
If misery loves company, then the Revolution may have found its match in the Fire, who’ve also stumbled through a number of setbacks in recent weeks. Winless in their last six (0-2-4), the Fire currently sit in ninth place, with a 3-1 Open Cup win over the Atlanta Silverbacks serving as a rare glimmer of light for Frank Yallop’s side this season.
Here’s what to watch for on Saturday with the Revolution and Fire each hoping to put their recent struggles behind them:
• No time to panic. It’s safe to say that not much has gone the Revolution’s way during their four-game losing streak. Both the offense and defense have struggled, while questions have popped up at goalkeeper with Brad Knighton getting a surprise start two weeks ago vs. Philadelphia. However, every MLS club encounters setbacks at some point in the season, and veteran Chris Tierney believes that overcoming the struggles boils down to a simple concept: resilience.
“These are the times where you just have to fight through it,” Tierney told the media on Thursday. “We’re in the dog days of summer, we have six to seven games this month alone, so it’s going to be a tough stretch. We have to dig in and defend well, make sure our work rate is where it needs to be, and we know that if we take care of those things, then the results will start coming our way.”
• Overcoming the absence of Lee Nguyen? Revolution supporters were treated to an unwelcome shock on Friday morning when the league announced that Nguyen was fined and suspended for Saturday’s game for stomping on the back of John Stertzer during last week’s clash at Salt Lake. Without their leading scorer, the Revolution will have to find an alternative power source for their attack, which has already flickered in recent weeks. Expect a finally-healthy Kelyn Rowe to fill in for Nguyen in the central midfield, where he’s at his most effective. Interestingly, the last time the Fire paid a visit to Foxborough, Rowe scored a stoppage-time goal to seal a 2-0 win on Aug. 17, 2013.
• Beating their opponent to the board. Pop quiz: when was the last time the Revolution held a lead in league play? To find the answer, you have to go back to May 24, when Diego Fagundez scored a 77th-minute game-winner to send the Revolution on their way to a 2-1 win. Since then, conceding early goals has been a disturbing trend for the local XI. In each of their last four losses, the Revolution have conceded five first-half goals, while scoring only one of their own. While defense certainly has to improve, the offense must do its part, as well.
“As important as not conceding the first goal is scoring the first goal,” Tierney said. “We go in and attack and try to put the opposition on the back foot -- especially at home, we get that first goal and we feel really good about our chances during the game.”
• A call for creativity. Another unwelcome aspect of conceding early is that the team on top will often drop numbers and pack their defense tight to preserve the win. Should the Revolution find themselves in a similar predicament, the team must get creative in the final third. It may sound trite, but as the scoreline changes, so too must the ideas. Players like Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe and Daigo Kobayashi must do better at creating new wrinkles to force their opponent out of its comfort zone. Putting chances on frame is one thing, but knocking an opponent’s balance off is another.
• The devil is in the details. It’s unlikely that the goals are going to start magically flowing for the Revolution on Saturday. And coach Jay Heaps knows it. In order for the Revolution to snap out of their four-game funk, it’s going to boil down to the fine print. Cutting down on what Tierney called “cheap chances” is one area for improvement. Another area the Revolution can work on is the simple art of finishing their shots. And after conceding two penalties to Salt Lake last week, it might also be a good idea to stay disciplined inside their own 18.
“It’s the little things that are going to get us out of it,” Heaps told the media on Thursday. “It’s not going to be a five-goal game; it’s going to be a set piece goal (and) a 1-0 win. It’s going to be something (like) grinding it out, and finding a way to get back in the positives.”
For the fifth straight game against MLS competition, the Revolution found themselves staring at a deficit going into halftime in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup clash. And for the fifth straight game, the Revolution couldn’t climb out of it, as Conor Casey’s 10th-minute goal paved the way for a 2-0 quarterfinal win for the Union.
“It takes a lot out of us,” Revolution midfielder/forward Teal Bunbury told reporters after the match. “I don’t know what it is exactly. I think it’s a mindset that we all have to get on the same page from the first whistle because it’s not a light switch that you can just turn on and expect to get back into the game once you’re down.”
Coming back from an early goal has certainly been a tough task for the Revolution this year. Actually, it’s proven to be an insurmountable one during the spring and early summer.
In league action this year, the Revolution are 0-6-0 when trailing at halftime, a troubling trend for a team that went a respectable 2-3-2 tethered to a deficit going into the break last season.
Of course, the Revolution’s inability to bounce back wasn’t at the forefront of the players’ minds entering the second half. Quite the opposite. They approached the second half intent to level the match.
But Sebastien Le Toux’s 47th-minute goal put a sizable dent in their hopes of a second-half comeback. So much for staying within striking distance.
All hope wasn’t completely lost for the guests. The attack flickered to life following Le Toux’s tally, and it appeared that the Revolution might be able to pull themselves out of the two-goal hole as the hour mark neared.
But that momentum was brought to a complete halt after a line of severe thunderstorms barreled over PPL Park, forcing a 64-minute delay. Even so, midfielder Steve Neumann wasn’t about use the weather as an excuse.
“I don’t know if it factored into play that much,” Nuemann told reporters. “We’re all used to that sort of thing happening once or twice throughout our careers. I thought we lost some steam after the break, which we can only fault ourselves for first and foremost.”
We’ll never know if the Revolution would have gone on to score had the storm clouds stayed away from Chester, Pennsylvania. However, it’s clear that the team returned from the lengthy interruption a frustrated bunch.
Less than 10 minutes after the teams returned to the pitch, Jose Goncalves and Lee Nguyen were both cautioned. Making matters worse, A.J. Soares, who was initially shown a yellow card in the 47th minute, was given a second caution in the 94th minute, leaving the Revolution with 10 men when the final whistle chirped.
It would be a lie to call Tuesday’s performance promising for the Revolution. Not only were they limited to four shots all game, but they also conceded nine corner kicks.
Despite their far-from-inspiring performance, Bunbury is optimistic that the Revolution will be able to turn their struggles around before long.
“We’ve just got to come together,” Bunbury said. “This is the time in the middle of season where there are always ups and downs. I know the guys have the right mindset and we’re just going to look forward to our next game now.”
Conor Casey scored in the 10th minute to put the Revolution into an early ditch, while Sebastien Le Toux added an insurance goal in the 47th minute, allowing the Union to advance to the Open Cup semifinals. They’ll meet the winner of Wednesday’s Carolina Railhawks-FC Dallas quarterfinal on Aug. 13.
Tuesday’s match was halted in the 62nd minute after a dangerous thunderstorm rolled into the area, forcing spectators and players alike to take cover. The delay lasted 64 minutes before play resumed.
New England finished the match with 10 men after center back A.J. Soares was issued a second caution in the 94th minute. In total, seven players -- including four Revolution players -- were carded by referee Fotis Bazakos.
In last year’s quarterfinal round, eventual U.S. Open Cup champion D.C. United eliminated the Revolution, 3-1.
What it means: Pitted against MLS competition for the first time during this year’s tournament, the Revolution saw their recent woes in league play bleed into Open Cup action. Once again, the Revolution were handed an early deficit they couldn’t climb out of with the offense missing in action. Although leading scorer Lee Nguyen went the full 90, there was little he could do to help his club find the breakthrough. The Revolution’s frustrations boiled over late, as Nguyen, Goncalves and Soares were all cautioned in the final 20 minutes. All in all, it was the exact opposite of what coach Jay Heaps likely was looking for from his side with a major piece of hardware within sight.
Stat of the match: After Patrick Mullin scored his club’s fifth goal in the 67th minute of a 5-3 win over the Union on May 17, the Revolution have been outscored by their conference foes 7-1.
Weather impacts Open Cup ... again: It just wouldn’t be the Open Cup unless the weather stole some of the spotlight. The 64-minute delay due to thunderstorms marked the third time in the last three years that weather has delayed Open Cup play for the Revolution. Last year’s third-round clash vs. Rochester was delayed in the second half, while the start of a third-round meeting with Harrisburg City in 2012 was pushed back due to storms.
Lineup notes: Revolution coach Jay Heaps fielded a mix of regulars and reserves for Tuesday’s contest, much like he did in the club’s fifth-round win against Rochester. In fact, eight of the starters from the 2-1 win over Rochester on June 25 returned to the lineup against Philadelphia.
Quick return to conference action: The Revolution will return to Gillette Stadium on Saturday for league action against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. In their first meeting of the season, the sides settled for a wild 1-1 draw that saw Bobby Shuttleworth deny a Juan Luis Anangano penalty in stoppage time to preserve the road point.
The conference foes wrapped up their three-game regular-season series well before the halfway point of the MLS season, with the Union getting the better of the Revolution in a 3-1 win on June 28. The win also gave the Union the upper hand in the series, going 2-1-0 against the Revolution in 2014.
But the stakes will certainly be much different on Tuesday. With each side only three wins away from lifting the Dewar Challenge Trophy, here’s what to watch for when the Revolution and Union meet for the right to advance to the Open Cup semifinals.
More adjustments in store for Union? The last time the Revolution and Union met, the latter tweaked its lineup just enough to throw the former for a loop. With Maurice Edu positioned at center back, Amobi Okugo at holding midfielder and Cristian Maidana as the attacking midfielder, the Revolution might as well have been playing an entirely different opponent than the one they faced twice earlier this season. The changes allowed the Union to collect a rare road victory and served as a cautionary tale for the Revolution with Tuesday’s tilt on tap.
“I don’t see them changing their lineup too much,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told the media on Monday. “I think maybe three or four players here or there, but in terms of what they’re doing, maybe a formation change. But we talked about it: The players are the same, whether they’re taking to their starting positions or not, that’s different.”
How many changes will Heaps make to his lineup? Tuesday’s game comes only four days after a long flight back from Utah and is the second of seven -- yes, seven -- contests the Revolution will play during the month of July. In other words, Heaps will have some serious tightrope walking to do when it comes to resting some while shaking the rust off others. With Saturday’s league game against Chicago to follow, expect Heaps to field a strong mix of starters with only three more tournament wins separating the Revolution from a second Open Cup championship.
A complete performance from start to finish ... and top to bottom. On paper, it sounds so simple: a complete performance will often yield a team three points. But incorporating that plan onto the pitch has been a tall task for the Revolution during league play over their last four games. When the defense steps up, the offense disappears, and vice versa. A strong first half gives way to a weak second stanza. A lethargic start forces a stronger finish. And so on. To get the best of the Union, the Revolution have to find the consistency that has eluded them in league action since late May.
“We’re hoping that guys like Brad Knighton, guys like Jose (Goncalves) and A.J. (Soares) and whoever’s playing in the backline (will) help us out a little bit and give us that little bit of sturdiness," Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe told reporters Monday. “And obviously the guys up front have to perform as well, so it’s a whole team thing.”
Can Rowe keep sizzling on Open Cup play? Speaking of performing, no one on the Revolution roster is hotter in Open Cup action than Rowe, who has collected seven goals in his last six tournament matches. His last strike proved to be the game-winner in last month’s 2-1 fifth-round win over Rochester. With the third-year midfielder in the middle of an impressive scoring run, you can bet that the offense will revolve around opening room for Rowe and getting him as many chances as possible. After all, why change what’s worked so well?
Payback on the Revolution’s mind. If there’s one thing that won’t be in short supply for the local XI when they step onto the pitch at PPL Park, it’s motivation. Less than two weeks ago, the Union handed the Revolution a humbling home loss. What’s worse, the 3-1 defeat came right after a three-week break in league action due to the World Cup, which should have afforded the hosts plenty of time to prepare and ready themselves for the slumping Union. While the focus will remain on the present, rest assured that the not-so-distant past has crossed the minds of some with Tuesday’s rematch on tap.
“I think the fact that they did come in and beat us here at home after the break was a big eye-opener for us,” Rowe said. “I think that, no matter what team they put out there, we want to get a result, and obviously a positive one to get that payback from when they were here.”
True, the Revolution were outshot 14-9, and only one of those efforts was deemed on target. And yes, Salt Lake connected on 82 more passes in the attacking half.
But the fact that it took not one but two penalty kicks to send the Revolution to their fourth straight league loss suggests the guests could've earned a result against Real Salt Lake had referee Allen Chapman called the match differently.
"I thought we played well enough to get at least a point," Soares told revolutionsoccer.net after the match. "We defended really well and had plenty of chances going forward. To get no points is super disappointing."
In some respects, the Revolution were lucky the match was decided by only a single goal. After all, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth was called upon to make no fewer than three acrobatic saves just to keep Salt Lake at bay before the half-hour mark.
The Revolution might have been living dangerously in the first half, but it took a curious call from Chapman to tilt the match in Salt Lake's favor. No one in a navy blue uniform was happy about it.
In the 34th minute, Joao Plata sent a dangerous corner kick into the mix, where Chris Schuler had put himself in position to possibly head it through. But as he rose to meet it, Darrius Barnes ducked down behind Schuler, who quickly tumbled to the ground.
Chapman pointed to the spot, which opened the door for Salt Lake to grab the goal that had eluded them in the early stages of Friday's match. Despite protests from a number of Revolution players, Javier Morales stepped up and sent it through moments later.
"I didn't get an explanation," Soares said of Chapman's call on the penalty. "But I didn't ask for one, so I can't tell you. He saw something, called it, and it's fair enough -- he's the ref, and he can make whatever call he wants, I guess."
Instead of smarting over their misfortune, the Revolution quickly sought out the equalizer and found it two minutes after Morales opened the account.
On an expertly guided free kick from Chris Tierney, Barnes escaped his defender and nodded it through to put the match back on level terms in the 37th minute.
"[The goal] kind of woke everybody up a little bit," Barnes told revolutionsoccer.net after the match. "Obviously we feel like that's a tough [penalty kick]. I don't agree with it, but that was the call, and fortunately we responded. We tied it up, it's 1-1 at halftime, and we felt good going into the half."
Those positive vibes were effectively chased off the pitch after Chapman awarded a second penalty to Salt Lake after Tierney brought down John Stertzer in the box in the 63rd minute. Plata took the penalty and scored to reclaim the lead for the hosts.
Nevertheless, Tierney nearly added his second assist of the game by sending a perfect ball for Patrick Mullins deep in the 18, but the rookie striker couldn't push it through in the 68th minute.
"We knew we were going to come out and play better -- we had to play better in the second half, and I thought we did," Barnes said. "We created tons of chances, and we should have finished a couple of those."
But in the end, the two penalties were all that separated the Revolution from the result Soares believes his side should've grabbed on the Fourth of July.
"I'm disappointed with both calls on the penalty kicks," Soares said. "It's a hard one to swallow because we didn't deserve to get no points."