Crew 3, Revolution 2

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Entering stoppage time of Saturday night’s meeting between the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew, the Revs looked poised to become the first team to take a point away from Crew Stadium in 2010. Then along came Robbie Rogers.

Rogers scored the game-winning goal in the first minute of stoppage time, lifting the Crew to a 3-2 victory and spoiling an otherwise stellar night for Revolution rookie Zak Boggs, who marked his first career professional start with his first two professional goals.

Four of the game’s goals came in a chaotic 11-minute stretch late in the first half. Boggs gave the Revolution the lead with his first career goal in the 29th minute, only to see an Eddie Gaven tally and a Cory Gibbs’ own goal stake the Crew to a 2-1 lead within six minutes. Boggs then struck again in the 40th minute to send the teams into halftime level, but Rogers’ late heroics earned Columbus the full three points.

The Revolution (2-5-1, 7 pts.) is now winless in its last five games (0-4-1) after earning back-to-back victories in early April, while the Crew (3-0-2, 11 pts.) remain one of Major League Soccer’s two unbeaten teams and stay perfect (3-0-0) at home.

The shorthanded Revolution traveled only 16 players to Columbus, as eight members of the club’s roster were unavailable because of injury, suspension or personal reasons. That figure included the suspended Marko Perovic – who was ejected from the Revs’ midweek match against Chivas USA – as well as Kevin Alston and Edgaras Jankauskas, both of whom suffered right hamstring strains in that Wednesday night loss.

As a result, head coach Steve Nicol was forced to get creative with his lineup once again. He opted for a 4-5-1 setup for the second straight game, with Joseph Niouky returning from suspension to join Pat Phelan and Chris Tierney in central midfield. Boggs started on the left wing, while Khano Smith started behind him as a makeshift left back, pushing Seth Sinovic to the right side. Kheli Dube – also returning from suspension – started as the lone forward.

Despite the patchwork lineup, the Revs started the match with a solid defensive shape and largely limited Columbus’ opportunities in the opening 25 minutes. A long-range blast from Rogers flew just over the crossbar in the fifth minute and Guillermo Barros Schelotto directed a header on frame in the 23rd minute, but neither team ever really looked like scoring in the early stages.

The game exploded to life in the 29th minute, however, when the Revolution took the lead on what appeared to be a largely innocuous play. Boggs cut inside from the left wing and fired a relatively tame looking shot, but a slight deflection off a Columbus defender put some dip on the ball, and the shot slipped through the hands of Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer to put the Revs in front, 1-0.

New England’s lead was short-lived, as Columbus struck twice in the next six minutes to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Gaven leveled the score with his first goal of the year in the 31st minute, capitalizing on a loose ball when Gibbs’ clearing header fell to his feet inside the box. The midfielder controlled the ball before steadying himself and rifling a shot inside the far post.

The Crew then pushed into the lead in the 35th minute, when Gibbs’ accidentally turned the ball into his own net as he backtracked into the box. It was a low left-wing cross from the consistently-dangerous Rogers which caused the threat, as Gibbs slid and extended his leg in an attempt to cut out the cross, but instead directed the ball inside the right post.

Just as the Revolution’s lead was short-lived, so too was the Crew’s advantage, as Boggs scored his second of the game to level the contest at 2-2 in the 40th minute. It was a brilliant piece of interplay just outside the box between Phelan and Dube – after the play started with Boggs – which set up the strike, as Boggs slotted inside the left post from 15 yards out to send the teams into halftime level.

The frenzied pace of the first half continued into the second, as New England goalkeeper Preston Burpo was called upon to make a reaction save on Gaven’s close-range toe-poke in the 55th minute. Burpo made two more saves on Gaven in the 61st minute, diving to stop a tight-angle shot and sprawling to get a piece of the rebound, as well.

The Crew continued to pressure but Burpo was again up to the task in the 69th minute, this time getting down well to his left to stop Steven Lenhart’s breakaway attempt.

Tierney had New England’s first quality chance of the second half in the 78th minute when Sainey Nyassi was hauled down by Adam Moffat just outside the box. Tierney stepped up to take the free kick and got his effort around the wall, but Hesmer made a comfortable save.

The Revolution built on the momentum and threatened again one minute later, but Boggs’ attempt at the hat trick was foiled when his 20-yard blast flew inches high of the upper right corner.

New England was left to rue its missed opportunity, as Columbus pushed forward in search of a late winner and found it in the first minute of stoppage time courtesy of Rogers. Shortly after Gaven had struck the crossbar with an audacious back-heel, Rogers pounced on a loose ball six yards from goal after Darrius Barnes had cleared Jason Garey’s header off the line.

With such little time left on the clock, the Revs never had the chance to equalize.

After playing three games in eight days, the Revs will have another quick turnaround this week, as they’ll travel south down I-95 for a U.S. Open Cup play-in match against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, May 12. They’ll return to league action on Saturday, May 15, when they host the San Jose Earthquakes at Gillette Stadium.

New England Revolution (2-5-1, 7 pts.) at Columbus Crew (3-0-2, 11 pts.)
May 8, 2010 – Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)

Scoring Summary:
NE – Zak Boggs (unassisted) 29
CLB – Eddie Gaven (unassisted) 31
CLB – Own Goal (Cory Gibbs) 35
NE – Zak Boggs (Kheli Dube, Pat Phelan) 40
CLB – Robbie Rogers (unassisted) 91+

New England: Preston Burpo (GK), Khano Smith, Cory Gibbs ©, Darrius Barnes (Zack Schilawski 92+), Seth Sinovic, Zak Boggs, Chris Tierney, Joseph Niouky, Pat Phelan, Sainey Nyassi, Kheli Dube

Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Kenny Mansally, Mauricio Castro, Nico Colaluca

STATS: Shots 7; Shots on Goal 4; Saves 6; Fouls 4; Corners 3; Offsides 2

Columbus: William Hesmer, Gino Padula (Jason Garay 71), Eric Brunner, Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk ©, Robbie Rogers, Adam Moffat (Emmanuel Ekpo 78), Brian Carroll, Eddie Gaven, Steven Lenhart (Sergio Herrera 90), Guillermo Barros Schelotto

Substitutes Not Used: Kenny Schoeni, Andy Iro, Emilio Renteria, Jed Zayner

STATS: Shots 16; Shots on Goal 9; Saves 2; Fouls 11; Corners 4; Offsides 5

Misconduct Summary:
CLB- Adam Moffat (caution) 77
CLB- Robbie Rogers (caution) 91+

Referee: Ramon Hernandez
Assistant Referees: Jason Cullum (SAR), Steven Taylor (JAR)
Fourth Official: Jeff Gontarek
Weather: Cloudy and 50 degrees
Attendance: 10,197

NOTES:

  • The loss drops the Revs’ all-time record with Columbus to 16-26-9, and 6-14-6 in Columbus … New England has now lost four of its last five matches against the Crew.
  • For the second consecutive game, head coach Steve Nicol trotted out a 4-5-1 to begin the match.
  • Rookie Zak Boggs, making his first-ever MLS start, tallied his first two MLS goals.
  • Kheli Dube picked up his fourth assist of the season, tying his career high from 2008 in only seven games played.
  • MLS rookie leading scorer Zack Schilawski did not start for the first time in eight games this season, but came on as a second-half substitute in stoppage time.
  • New England switched to a 3-5-2 when Schilawski replaced Darrius Barnes in second-half stoppage time.