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Revolution fall at Philadelphia 1-0

Posted by Julian Cardillo  March 15, 2014 04:13 PM

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Lee Nguyen (left) made his first start of 2014, but the Revolution were unable to find their first goal or win of the season at Philadelphia on Saturday (Italo Alexander Photography)

The Revolution have opened their season with two losses, the latest of which came at the hands of the Philadelphia Union, 1-0, at PPL Park in Chester, Penn. on Saturday afternoon.

Sebastien Le Toux scored the game's only goal in the 31st minute, poking in a feed by Leonardo Fernandes for his first tally of 2014.

"In the first run, we over-committed a bit defensively and allowed them to break in," said Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps after the game in a phone interview. "When that happens players will take advantage of it. They did, and they scored a nice goal."

The Revolution have allowed six goals so far the this season, the most they've given up through their first two games since 2004. The Revolution are also now 0-4-2 all-time at Philadelphia.

As they sought to bounce back from last weekend's season opening 4-0 loss at Houston and earn their first win of 2014, Heaps made five changes to the starting lineup, including leaving club captain and reigning league Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves in Foxboro and starting Andrew Farrell in central defense. Farrell, plus midfielder Lee Nguyen, were both injured for last week's game and made their season debuts on Saturday.

Rounding out the changes to New England's preferred 4-1-4-1 formation was Andy Dorman starting in place of Kelyn Rowe (quadriceps), Darrius Barnes for Kevin Alston (hamstring) at right back, and Donnie Smith for Patrick Mullins on the left wing.

Despite the changes, it was the Revolution's midfield, not defense, that crumbled.

A revamped Union team that includes US national team midfielder Maurice Edu plus freshly-signed designated player Cristian Maidana pinged the ball around the turf while the Revolution misplaced passes and gave possession away cheaply. Philadelphia began picking off the Revolution's defense early in the game.

Amobi Okugo nearly scored on the game's first chance in the 18th minute, seeing his header off a corner kick by Maidana cleared off the line by Smith. Seven minutes later, Bobby Shuttleworth dove left to stop a point-blank effort from Jack McInerney, who shot first time after being found open in the six-yard box off a feed from Leonardo Fernandes.

In the 31st minute, Fernandes set up Le Toux for the opening goal and the eventual game-winner, finally beating Shuttleworth and New England's makeshift back line. Fernandes cut by Farrell on the left side of the penalty area, strode into the box and played the ball in front of Shuttleworth for an open Le Toux, who redirected the ball into the net.

"[Farrell] is coming back from injury but to me played well," said Heaps. "Defensively, we gave him too much to deal with on the flank play but centrally he handled most of the plays very well."

The Revolution tried for a quick response in the 38th minute, as Shuttleworth's goal kick bounced into the penalty area for Bunbury, who played the ball across the box for Diego Fagundez. Fagundez hit Bunbury's feed first-time but had his effort saved by Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. The rebound popped out to Fagundez instantly, but the player was unable to control it and watched as he inadvertently kneed the ball over the crossbar.

Heaps brought Jerry Bengston into the game at halftime for Donnie Smith, a move which stretched the field and allowed the Revolution more space to attack. Bengston didn't create a scoring attempt, however, though he created a physical battle for possession with Philadelphia center back Austin Berry.

Bengston won the battle, getting in behind Berry often. On one occasion, Berry, who was on a yellow card, took down Bengston on a breakaway. But match referee Kevin Morrison didn't eject Berry via a second yellow card, which the replay shows he should have done.

"We wanted to stretch the field with our pace. We tried opening the defense early in the second half...It's clearly a second yellow [on that play]. Unfortunately the referee was behind the play and didn't see it...unfortunately he made the wrong call."

The Revolution's last real chance was a line-drive shot by Fagundez from 30 yards out in the 59th minute that MacMath had to punch over the bar.

And despite a series of interchanging passes and pressing high for the equalizing goal, that shot was New England's last real venomous chance of the game.

"We could have played quicker, we could have played higher up and done better with the outlet ball," said Heaps. "We weren't good enough with the outlet ball."

With two losses to open up a season that started with so much excitement and anticipation, the Revolution will re-focus for next weekend's home opener against Vancouver at Gillette Stadium. Foxboro may be the place for Revolution to find their form as well as their first goal, shutout, and victory.

But questions continue to linger after this game not only about the team's rocky start, but also about the absence of their captain and defensive general, Jose Goncalves.

"Our focus it to put the best players on the field to win this match," said Heaps when asked about Goncalves absence. "We tried to draw up a plan for this game."

If you want to reach Julian email him at julianccardillo@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @juliancardillo

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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