FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After conceding a 90th-minute equalizer in a frustrating 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo this past Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution was hoping the term “déjà vu” wouldn’t be associated with Saturday night’s meeting with the New York Red Bulls.
Unfortunately, that was the phrase most frequently uttered in the Revolution’s locker room after the club surrendered a 2-0 halftime lead and saw precious points slip away once again when Dane Richards pulled the Red Bulls level in the 87th minute.
“Déjà vu,” said head coach Steve Nicol as he opened his postgame press conference. “We’ve lost too many points (this season). We made two mistakes tonight and we got punished and that’s kind of been the story so far this season. When we’ve made mistakes, we’ve ended up getting punished, which is why we ended up with another point (instead of three).”
Argentine forward Milton Caraglio scored his first two goals since arriving as the Revolution’s first-ever Designated Player three weeks ago – a pair of lethal finishes in the 15th and 37th minutes – to stake the Revolution to a halftime lead as the home side held the Red Bulls without a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. It was the first time this season a Revolution player scored multiple goals in a game.
Caraglio’s performance highlighted a positive first half in which the Revs dictated the pace, generated a series of scoring chances and kept their shape defensively.
“It’s exactly what you want,” Nicol said of Caraglio’s performance. “He’s a center forward and he held the ball up great. We had a huge difference just getting out with him and Rajko (Lekic). For the short time they’ve been together, they look as though they’ll do well together, which is what you hope for. And obviously scoring two goals is great.”
“We forced errors, we got open chances,” rookie defender A.J. Soares said of the first-half performance. “We were definitely better than them in the first half and then they showed some quality in the second half. But that first 45 was maybe the best 45 we’ve put together all year, and we talked at halftime about trying to maintain that for 90. We didn’t do it so that’s why we didn’t get the result that we wanted.”
Although the Revs emerged from the locker room with a two-goal advantage, the tenor of the match changed during a two-minute span early in the second half. Richards broke clear of the Revolution’s backline to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 53rd minute, while Kenny Mansally was ejected in the 55th minute as the Revs were reduced to 10 men.
New York’s man advantage lasted only 14 minutes as Teemu Tainio was sent off in the 69th minute, but the shift in momentum was still felt as the Red Bulls gained a foothold on the proceedings.
“It kind of felt like the momentum maybe changed,” said Soares. “It’s a pretty bad couple minutes for us. That being said, you just have to get on with it. You can’t do anything about it. But once that happened, I think we needed to kind of press out more and keep attacking, keep pressing the ball. It kind of seemed like we went into a shell a little bit and let them walk the ball up.”
The Red Bulls eventually capitalized on the space provided in the 87th minute when Joel Lindpere wriggled free down the left wing and drilled a low cross into the middle for Richards to tap home from close range.
Once again the Revs will be left with the task of figuring out how to put together a full 90 minute performance as they look to rebound ahead of next weekend’s trip to Chester, Pa., to face the Philadelphia Union.
“We put out a good 85, 80 minutes and unfortunately weren’t able to close it out tonight,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “It’s disappointing. We’re all frustrated and hopefully we can come back and bounce back better next week.”