VANCOUVER – There’s little doubt Saturday night’s meeting between the New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps FC hinged on one controversial play in the 23rd minute.
The Revs were flying in the early stages and led 2-0 after goals from Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe in the opening 20 minutes, but right back Andrew Farrell was ejected shortly thereafter and the Whitecaps pounced in stunning fashion to score three goals before the halftime break en route to an eventual 4-3 victory.
The merits of Farrell’s red card can and should be argued – replays indicated most of the contact on the play in question occurred when Kenny Miller kicked the back of his own foot – but regardless of its validity, the Revs were left feeling they should have responded better to the adversity of going down a man so early.
“Sometimes game-plans get disrupted,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, who felt his side’s opening 20 minutes was perhaps their best period of the season. “The only thing I’m a little disappointed with is after the red card, our reaction. In the next 10 minutes we gave them another goal.
“We really wish we had solidified things and just played a little bit better during that time; a little bit more alert, a little bit more veteran-like in those few minutes. Unfortunately we’re a younger team and we got rattled a little bit.”
All told, Vancouver struck three times in an 18-minute span to turn the Revolution’s two-goal lead into a one-goal deficit. The Revs responded well after the halftime break – winning the second-half possession battle and generating multiple late chances for an equalizer – but that shaky period immediately following the red card proved to be their undoing at BC Place.
While it would be tempting for the Revs to put the memories of Saturday night’s frustrating loss out of their minds, that’s not what would be most beneficial according to Heaps. Instead the New England boss wants his young team to use the match as a learning experience in cases of future adversity.
“It would be a mistake for us not to learn from this game because there’s so much there,” he said. “There are so many parts of this game that we’re going to see and the challenges (we’ll see) over the next few games, or the next months, or the next years.
“Players are learning. Kelyn Rowe, Andrew Farrell, Lee Nguyen, Stephen McCarthy, Diego Fagundez, Juan Agudelo. They’re learning. They’re young guys. They’re learning the situation. These are moments that we have to coach and talk about and learn from and I think this game had a little bit of everything. You could get your coaching license just by watching this game.”