FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jose Moreno gave the New England Revolution the perfect start on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, Chris Pontius gave D.C. United the perfect finish.
Moreno scored his first MLS goal in the sixth minute to stake the Revs to an early lead, but it was short-lived as Maicon Santos leveled the score in the 19th minute to set the stage for Pontius’ heroics. After entering the game as a 79th-minute substitute, Pontius was on the field for just three minutes before using a devastating cutback and a precise finish to send the Revs to their second straight heartbreaking loss.
“It was a bright start, but that was about it until the second half,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “The first half I was pretty disappointed in the way we performed. We just couldn’t get a rhythm, couldn’t get our game.
“It’s unfortunate we have a home opportunity like this – we’ve been on the road so much this season – and we just felt like we were going to come out and fly,” said Heaps, who has had four road games and two home games to start his coaching career. “D.C., you’ve got to give them credit. They came in to win and that’s what they did.”
The Revs were without captain Shalrie Joseph – serving a one-game suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee – but they regained the services of the dynamic Benny Feilhaber, who made a 35-minute substitute appearance after missing the past three games through injury.
Feilhaber replaced Lee Nguyen, who battled through an illness for the game’s first 55 minutes and recorded his first career MLS assist on Moreno’s goal. After the game Feilhaber admitted he needs time to regain full fitness, but Heaps was pleased with the effort from his 27-year-old playmaker.
“I thought Benny did well when he came in,” said Heaps. “He was a spark. We asked him to go in there and fight and that’s what he did.”
As for Moreno, it was his first extended run-out with the Revs after making a 12-minute debut off the bench last week at FC Dallas. The Colombian played alongside Saer Sène before making way for debutant Bjorn Runstrom in the 79th minute.
“It was their first time getting reps together in a real game,” Heaps said of his starting forward pairing. “They looked good at times. I think Moreno’s still getting used to what we’re going to be able to do off of him. He’s trying to hold the ball and there’s players running off … The more reps we can get together with them, the better they’ll be.”
Their next chance to play together won’t be for another two weeks as the Revs have a bye on the schedule next weekend before returning to action against the New York Red Bulls on April 28. While most players would prefer a quick turnaround and a chance to rebound after suffering back-to-back losses, the break will prove beneficial for those players recovering from injuries.
“I hate having a long break after you lose a game because you have time to think about it,” said Clyde Simms. “I would rather have a quick turnaround. But it’ll be good. We were missing some pieces, some guys are banged up a little bit, so from that aspect I think it’s good that we have this little break.”