New England Revolution

Revolution collapse in Champions League loss to Pumas

A penalty kick defeat sends New England crashing out of the continental competition.

Revolution Champions League
Brandon Bye during the Revolution's Champions League loss in Mexico City against Pumas. AP Photo/Fernando Llano

The Revolution suffered a monumental defeat in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup against Pumas UNAM on Wednesday, losing on penalty kicks after falling 3-0 in regular time.

Having won the first leg at Gillette Stadium 3-0, New England needed only to hold on in the second game in Mexico City’s Estadio Olímpico Universitario. But two goals from Pumas forward Juan Ignacio Dinenno on each side of halftime and a third from California native Sebastian Saucedo was enough to bring things level.

With the matchup tied at 3-3, the game went directly to penalty kicks. Misses from Revolution players Tommy McNamara and Sebastian Lletget were the difference, as Dinenno’s final penalty found the back of the net to send Pumas through to the semifinals.


Here are a few takeaways from a difficult night for New England:

Revolution weathered the storm in the first half, but the pattern was set.

While Pumas didn’t exactly start the game like an offensive juggernaut, the hosts did enough to keep steady pressure on the Revolution. The most basic ingredient was Pumas’ ability to simply keep the ball. The halftime possession stat revealed this disparity, as New England managed just 34 percent, according to CONCACAF.

The other major Pumas strongpoint was in creating set-piece opportunities. The Revolution were put in a near-continuous back foot in the first 25 minutes especially, defending six corner kicks.

Yet for a few nervous moments, New England defended reasonably well in the opening half hour.

It was only a moment of class from Rogerio in the 33rd minute that opened the scoring. Stepping in front of Jon Bell on a near-post cross, the Brazilian deftly touched the ball around New England’s center back, allowing him to touch a well-aimed cross into Dinneno. The Argentine forward redirected the ball into the far corner with his knee, giving Pumas a vital lifeline.

A second half collapse.

Despite creating a goal-scoring chance almost immediately in the second half, New England quickly settled back into a worrying pattern. Unable to retain the ball for long, the Revolution found themselves defending in their own half of the field almost permanently.


With both Henry Kessler and Andrew Farrell out hurt, the Revolution had to rely on backup center backs Omar Gonzalez and Jon Bell. Each performed admirably, but was also at fault on Dinneno’s goals.

One frequent Pumas tactic — switching the ball from opposite flanks — finally paid off on Saucedo’s goal. A lofted cross cleared New England right back Brandon Bye, and the 25-year-old Pumas winger was able to cut inside and finish the ball into the roof of the net.

In a scramble for a late goal, which still could have won the night for New England, Revolution players fell collectively short. Even a point-blank header from Gonzalez was saved on the goal-line by Pumas goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.

Injuries took a toll.

In watching the three Pumas goals on Wednesday night, it was clear that a plethora of early-season injuries had an effect on the outcome for the Revolution.

The absence of both starting center backs hampered New England’s ability to defend and stay organized (a particularly vital task given the circumstances at high altitude in Mexico City).

And while both outside backs — Bye and DeJuan Jones — each played well, they were called upon too often in defensive duties, and were unable to join the attack as much as usual.


Goalkeeper Matt Turner has also remained sidelined with injury, meaning that backup Earl Edwards Jr. started again. Though Edwards has played admirably in the interim (and saved a penalty kick during the shootout), he’s not at Turner’s level.

New England now turns its attention to a matchup against Charlotte FC prior to the international break this weekend. The Revolution kickoff on Saturday at 7 p.m.


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