FOXBOROUGH — After a first-rate win streak ended against the Montreal Impact last week, the New England Revolution traveled home wishing for good luck.
Unfortunately, the absence-riddled New York Red Bulls brought winning intentions, blanking the Revs, 2-0, in their first home defeat of the year.
New England had severable viable scoring chances in the first half. Within the first minute, Lee Nguyen held the ball on the right wing before feeding Patrick Mullins across the middle, and the rookie hit a left-footed try that goalkeeper Luis Robles whacked away.
Mullins, enjoying a wonderful run of scoring in the past month, managed only one shot on goal. He was taken off at halftime for Kelyn Rowe.
“I would have liked to have done a little better with some runs and holding up the ball,” Mullins said. “It’s something I obviously need to reassess in myself. I need to do the best I can for the team.”
In the 12th minute, Chris Tierney, a Wellesley native, dropped a swerving free kick inside the penalty area, and even though it appeared New York defenders lost their marks, the Revs weren’t correctly positioned to bury the score, as the ball trickled out-of-bounds.
The Red Bulls capitalized six minutes later when Eric Alexander stood firmly at the back post on Lloyd Sam’s set-piece cross. Alexander headed the ball down low to beat Bobby Shuttleworth’s tentative rush forward.
Nguyen took a long-range aim in the 22nd minute, and although it wasn’t a missile, Robles fell to the ground for the save. Only two minutes passed before another deep effort, this time off the foot of Tierney, saw Robles jump high off his line to bat it aside.
Jay Heaps’ side was an inch away from the equalizer in the 44th minute, and Diego Fagundez energized the opportunity on his own.
Following a long run across the face of goal, the recent high school graduate cracked his shot off the far post right by Robles. It was the Revolution’s finest possibility of the afternoon.
“I was just trying to get on my right foot and try to hit, take a shot, take one around him, and hit the post,” Fagundez said. “I thought it was going to come back and hit the goalie in the head and go in, but it didn’t go out that way. We were unlucky but we just have to keep our heads up and know that this break is going to be tough for us. ”
The first half showed little difference between the two teams except the scoreline. Both squads maintained stretches of possession, and each tallied four shots on goal.
Andrew Farrell muscled into the penalty area to track down Rowe’s through ball in the 50th minute, and once again, Robles was there. He cut down the angle and snagged the ball just in time to foil the ex-Louisville Cardinal’s conversion.
The Red Bulls’ goalie was magnificent, making 10 saves and several key stops.
“There weren’t a lot of difficult saves; they were mostly routine because our guys put them in tough spots,” Robles said. “I give tons of credit to the defense tonight.”
Fagundez set up Nguyen in the 56th minute, rolling an accurate pass that Nguyen chased and struck on his first touch, watching his attempt skitter past the iron, another frustrating miss for the Revolution.
About 10 minutes later, Chris Tierney’s delivery from a set piece failed to meet his teammates, but Ibrahim Sekagya’s badly-directed clearance towards his own net caused tense moments for the Red Bulls. Robles was able to subdue the attack though.
Former PSG man Peguy Luyindula essentially catapulted his team to victory in the 76th minute. He counted the second goal of the competition in wonderful fashion, nailing a lengthy volley that sizzled past Shuttleworth.
Fagundez desperately sped forward in the 89th minute and needled a pass to Teal Bunbury, who crashed Robles’ metalwork but failed to clip the point-blank shot. The clocked wound down, and the Revolution’s second straight loss was in the books.
“I just thought we let ourselves down. The movement wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be and I think the guys will tell you that,” Heaps said. “When you go into a break, I think you have to collect and look at what you did well and what you didn’t do so well. I think we’ve been streaky. Let’s be honest, we’ve won games and we’ve lost and we’ve got to find a way to balance that out a little bit better.”