FOXBOROUGH — The New England Revolution ended MLS play prior to the World Cup break on a sour note, dropping their second-consecutive loss to the New York Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium. But re-starting league competition against the Philadelphia Union, a team that the Revolution offensively torched last month, didn’t offer manager Jay Heaps any solace as his squad fell short yet again in a 3-1 defeat.
“You can say it was an off night, but that’s the easy way out. It was a disappointing result, a disappointing lack of finishing in the first half,’’ Heaps said. “There’s a lot of things that need to be looked at, and it starts with me.’’
The Revs had nothing to show in the opening five minutes, except Andy Dorman’s scuffed volley that trickled towards the sideline.
In the 10th minute, though, the Revolution nearly drew first blood.
Midfielder Diego Fagundez slid a long through ball to Patrick Mullins, whose point-blank chance was punch forward by Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath, causing a scramble on the edge of the five-yard box. Teal Bunbury and Fagundez both failed to connect on follow-up attempts.
Three minutes passed before New England spurred another legitimate opportunity. Chris Tierney found space on the wing and curled a low cross towards an open Mullins. Unfortunately, the two-time Hermann Trophy winner couldn’t administer an accurate touch.
The next noteworthy instance arrived in the 20th minute when Lee Nguyen played Fagundez behind the Union’s back line, only to see the youngster’s hesitant chip fall directly into MacMath’s hands.
“We were just missing that little bit of sharpness that’s the difference between winning and losing games,’’ Tierney said, speaking about the Revs’ fumbled opportunities. “It’s that final ball; it’s near misses that were going in for us when we had our good run of games earlier on.’’
Boston native Sheanon Williams stimulated the Union’s first viable opportunity, directing a header into the penalty box that Maurice Edu rocketed at Knighton in the 23rd minute. The U.S. international’s endeavor soared just above the crossbar, though.
Philadelphia threatened again in the 27th minute. Sebastien Le Toux, with his back facing the net, gathered Danny Cruz’s feed and dazzled a quick spin move, ricocheting his turf-roller off the post.
In the 39th minute, Le Toux aimed a pass intended for Conor Casey positioned in front of goal, and after the Revs cleared away this undertaking, Amobi Okugo wound up and unleashed a surging strike. Knighton’s diving save kept the score level.
Miscommunication sent the Revolution into halftime down a goal. In the 43rd minute, Conor Casey skipped a header from around midfield, and it appeared Jose Goncalves had successfully tracked the loose ball, ready to retain possession for his side.
Nonetheless, he tapped the ball for Knighton to control, and Le Toux slipped past the Portuguese defender, capturing the one-goal advantage by tapping a volleyed effort into the back of the net.
“It’s very frustrating, especially when we’re moving the ball and creating chances,’’ Goncalves said of his costly mistake. “To give up a goal like that, it’s always difficult to accept, but we had to react fast.’’
To start the second half, Andrew Farrell raced towards the Union’s endline and delivered a sure ball to Bunbury. He handled this vital opening poorly, laying his shot wide.
Danny Cruz took it upon himself to provided the Union with a second goal, dribbling up the middle of the pitch to uncork a long missile that buried into twine. Knighton’s sprawled desperation couldn’t prevent the score.
It appeared the Revolution were fighting back, however, in the 73rd minute, following a great sequence between two substitutes–Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene.
Sene crashed MacMath’s crease, and Rowe pinpointed his cross so that the French footballer was handed the straightforward finish.
Five minutes later, Le Toux notched a brace, tucking a well-trained attempt inside the far post to throw the Revs off the comeback trail. Andrew Wenger serviced the MLS veteran.
“We tried to be very organized as a team because we knew their quality. They beat us at home last time we met,’’ Le Toux said.
The Revolution travel to face Real Salt Lake next Friday.