FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Despite outshooting Real Salt Lake by a margin of 20-6, the New England Revolution conceded a pair of set-piece goals – including the game-winner in the 84th minute – and suffered a 2-1 loss to the defending champions on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
The result at least temporarily vaulted Real Salt Lake (14-4-9, 51 pts.) to the top of the Major League Soccer standings, one point ahead of the LA Galaxy, which plays on Sunday. Meanwhile, it was another frustrating result for the Revs (7-15-5, 26 pts.), who were officially eliminated from playoff contention following last weekend’s draw with the Columbus Crew.
Javier Morales was the catalyst for the visitors, assisting on both RSL goals from set pieces. The Argentine created the opening goal in the 68th minute, delivering a free kick which Nat Borchers flicked home with a back-post header, before his corner kick was powered home by Alvaro Saborio in the 84th minute. Sainey Nyassi scored the Revolution’s lone goal, briefly leveling the score with his third strike of the season in the 82nd minute.
There were two changes to the Revs lineup which earned a 2-2 draw with the Crew last weekend at Gillette Stadium. Chris Tierney returned from a left knee sprain to take over for the injured Kevin Alston (L hamstring strain) at right back, while Emmanuel Osei replaced Cory Gibbs (infection) in central defense.
The Revs – who had scored in the opening five minutes in each of their last two games – created the first quality chance in the 19th minute. Nyassi used a burst of speed to split a pair of defenders down the right wing before working his way past another inside the box, but instead of whipping a cross into the middle, Nyassi blasted a tight-angle drive high and wide of the near post.
Nyassi threatened again eight minutes later, receiving a short layoff from Ilija Stolica before clipping the bar with a 25-yard blast as RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was comprehensively beaten.
New England looked dangerous from distance again in the 36th minute when Shalrie Joseph let loose from outside the box, but his drive was deflected by Tony Beltran and Rimando had time to react and make a comfortable save.
Real Salt Lake almost grabbed the opener against the run of play one minute later when Ned Grabavoy settled a loose ball 25 yards from goal, but his left-footed shot sailed just wide of the post and the teams went into halftime scoreless.
Following a relatively tame 15 minutes after the break, RSL brought on U.S. National Team forward Robbie Findley in place of Fabian Espindola, adding a speed element in the attack. The Revs responded by making a substitution of their own a few minutes later, replacing Stolica with Kheli Dube.
It was RSL which seemingly benefited from the changes, as the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the 68th minute. From the left wing Morales delivered an arching free kick to the back post, where Borchers broke free of Osei and – with his back to goal – cleverly flicked a header into the upper corner.
The Revs almost provided an immediate response two minutes later when Marko Perovic’s 30-yard free kick was earmarked for the right side of the net, but Rimando did well to make a diving save to his left.
Pushing for an equalizing goal, the Revolution moved to an attack-minded 3-5-2 formation for the final 15 minutes. Jason Griffiths replaced Seth Sinovic to complete the formation change, which paired Joseph with Dube up front, with Perovic slotted behind as an attacking midfielder.
New England was rewarded for its aggressiveness in the 82nd minute when Nyassi grabbed the equalizer. Perovic and Dube created the chance to set up Nyassi in the right side of the box, and the Gambian’s high drive was pushed into the air by Rimando. As the ball fell to the ground at the far post Kenny Mansally was there to poke it home, but the ball crossed the line before Mansally’s touch and the goal was credited to Nyassi.
The 1-1 score line was short-lived, however, as RSL restored its lead just two minutes later from yet another set piece. Morales was the provider once again, delivering a corner kick for Saborio to power home from six yards out.
Nyassi had one last chance to pull the Revolution level for a second time when the ball popped loose in the right side of the box, but Rimando charged off his line to smother the attempt and secure the full three points for Real Salt Lake.
The Revs will return to the road next weekend, when they’ll visit the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Oct. 10. Kickoff from Robertson Stadium is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
New England Revolution (7-15-5, 26 pts.) vs. Real Salt Lake (14-4-9, 51 pts.)
October 2, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
RSL – Nat Borchers (Javier Morales) 68
NE – Sainey Nyassi (Kheli Dube, Marko Perovic) 82
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Javier Morales) 84
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (GK), Seth Sinovic (Jason Griffiths 74), Emmanuel Osei, Darrius Barnes, Chris Tierney, Kenny Mansally, Shalrie Joseph ©, Pat Phelan, Sainey Nyassi, Marko Perovic, Ilija Stolica (Kheli Dube 64)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Zack Schilawski, Khano Smith
STATS: Shots: 20; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 1; Corner Kicks: 8; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 12
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando (GK), Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy (Andy Williams 83), Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman ©, Alvaro Saborio (Jean Alexandre 86), Fabian Espindola (Robbie Findley 61)
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Pablo Campos, Nelson Gonzalez, Robbie Russell
STATS: Shots: 6; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 7; Corner Kicks: 2; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 12
NE – Seth Sinovic (caution) 40
RSL – Ned Grabavoy (caution) 41
NE – Pat Phelan (caution) 93+
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s Assistants: Thomas Supple, Peter Manikowski
Fourth Official: Jasen Anno
Weather: Clear and 57 degrees
- The loss dropped the Revolution’s record against Real Salt Lake to 4-5-3 all time, and 2-2-2 at Gillette Stadium.
- Cory Gibbs and Kevin Alston were both unavailable for the game because of injuries.
- When Jason Griffiths replaced Seth Sinovic in the 68th minute, the Revs moved into at 3-5-2 formation …the defense from left to right read: Tierney, Barnes, Osei … the midfield setup was: Mansally, Griffiths, Perovic, Phelan, Nyassi, while Dube and Joseph played up top.
- Sainey Nyassi scored his third goal of the season and first since July 10 against LA Galaxy … all three of Nyassi’s tallies this season have come at home.
- Kheli Dube picked up his fifth assist of 2010, tying him for the team lead with Shalrie Joseph … the helper was Dube’s first since May 8 at Columbus.
- Marko Perovic recorded his third assist of the season on Sainey Nyassi’s 82nd-minute goal … all three of Perovic’s assists have come in the last three games.
- Matt Reis surpassed the 20,000 minutes played in goal mark for his career, becoming the seventh goalkeeper and 38th player overall in MLS history to accomplish that feat.
- New England dropped to 2-8-0 in one-goal games.
- The Revolution is now 2-12-1 when its opponent finds the back of the net first.