New England traveled to San Jose with a two-game winning streak and a whole bunch of momentum in its favor after sweeping Toronto FC aside 4-1 at Gillette Stadium last weekend.
The Revs will depart the Bay Area on Sunday with a jarring reminder that there’s plenty of work still to do after a 2-0 defeat to the Earthquakes on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.
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“I didn’t think we were particularly good tonight,” New England boss Steve Nicol told reporters after the game. “I don’t think there is any denying that.”
Chris Wondolowski and Ike Opara inflicted the second-half damage for San Jose, but the Revs may wonder whether the buildup to the 57th-minute opener played a pivotal role deciding the outcome of the match.
Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney and Earthquakes midfielder Joey Gjertsen challenged for a 50-50 ball in the New England half. Gjertsen arrived first with gusto and Tierney fell to the ground in the collision. Tierney appealed for the foul, but referee Elias Bazakos waved away the claims and allowed play to continue.
Gjertsen subsequently started the move for the first goal as he played a diagonal ball into Ryan Johnson's feet. The Jamaican striker held up the ball in the attacking third, turned and played Wondolowski through the middle as the Revs futilely raised their arms for offside.
Wondolowski tucked home Johnson's feed to provide the breakthrough after Preston Burpo made three fine first-half saves to keep the match deadlocked heading into the second stanza.
“Sadly, I think the goals that went against us shouldn’t have happened,” Nicol said. “I think the first goal was offside, and that obviously changes the game. Like I said, we didn’t play well.”
Opara's second goal in as many weeks after 72 minutes condemned the Revs to their second defeat in three road matches, but one changed sequence or one missed opportunity likely wouldn't have turned the tide as the Earthquakes controlled proceedings for the majority of the match.
Familiar problems crept to the surface once again as New England struggled to cope with Shalrie Joseph's (right hip flexor strain) absence for the third time in four matches and failed to produce the type of performance usually required to walk away with a road result.
“We got off to a slow start,” Tierney said. “I thought we were lucky going into the half nil-nil. I thought it was a questionable build-up to their first [goal] and poor marking on the second. I don’t think we deserved three points tonight. It was a fair bill.”
For most of the match, the Revs labored in possession, though they did show an ability to keep the ball for brief periods. Without the ability to connect passes with some consistency through the middle of the park, the Earthquakes were able to wrest control of the match, press forward and rely on wingers Bobby Convey and Gjertsen to provide ample service from the wide areas.
San Jose's supply from the wings and from set pieces caused New England significant problems and Opara's header exposed the Revolution on a set piece for the second time this season.
“It was just one of those nights where we never found our game,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes told reporters after the match. “We didn’t get the ball moving, we didn’t find the chemistry tonight. We couldn’t link up passes. It was a frustrating night overall. We had a few chances that we could have stolen. We [could have] got ahead early, but we couldn’t take advantage of those. Then they came back and got their own goal and that was the difference in the game”.
Marko Perovic's impressive full debut, another fine performance from Burpo and a late attacking flurry will give the Revolution positives to cling to as they fly home on Sunday, but New England will start its preparations for Colorado's visit next Saturday knowing improvement is required to make the most of the upcoming three-match homestand.