FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Slow starts have been something of a theme for the New England Revolution this season, and on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium they dug themselves into a hole they couldn’t escape despite a furious second-half comeback.
Goals from Yeferson Soteldo, Kemar Lawrence, and Tsubasa Endoh gave visiting Toronto FC – playing their first game under Javier Perez following the dismissal of head coach Chris Armas on Sunday – a 3-0 lead before the game was 25 minutes old, and although second-half strikes from Carles Gil and Adam Buksa made for an exciting finish, ultimately the Revs suffered their first home loss of 2021, 3-2.
“That’s fast to go down three goals,” said Bruce Arena. “Bad mistake that led to the first goal, and brought a team that’s been struggling into the game and gave them confidence. You can’t concede goals like that. That gave them a lot of confidence.
“Then certainly, to their credit, the third goal was a great goal, by I think it was Endoh. We made some mistakes, for sure. Our last 60 minutes, I thought we played pretty well and we were positioned at the end to actually get a point. Heck of a save by [Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex] Bono there. So there were some good things, but the first 30 minutes is inexcusable.”
An uncharacteristic mistake by goalkeeper Brad Knighton – filling in for Matt Turner, currently with the U.S. National Team for the Concacaf Gold Cup – gave TFC the opening goal and a shot of life in the ninth minute, and they latched onto that momentum to score twice more in the following 15 minutes.
Buksa and Gustavo Bou both hit the woodwork before the halftime break, giving New England a sense that the comeback could be on in the second half. Gil brought that belief to life in the 56th minute when he buried a stunning free kick from 25 yards, and Buksa made it a real possibility with his fifth goal of the season in the 78th minute, heading home a cross from Emmanuel Boateng, making his Revs debut.
New England’s best chance to equalize arrived in the 95th minute when Maciel slipped Buksa into the box, but his effort was kicked away by Bono as TFC preserved the points.
“Yes, because we know what type of team we are. We have a lot of character,” Gil said when asked about the Revolution’s belief in the second half. “I think we have a big mentality, and at halftime I believed that we can win this game because we always create chances, we’ve had chances.
“But already it was 3-0, so it’s very difficult. And this is not the way. We need to be focusing in the first minute or try to take a lead, or there’s no other way.”
Unfortunately the Revs will have some extra time to think about Wednesday night’s loss, as they won’t return to action until next Saturday evening, July 17, when they’ll visit Atlanta United FC in a nationally-televised matchup on ESPN. Having gone 0-2-1 in their last three games following a 7-1-2 start, the Revs will be eager to get back on track coming out of the mini break.
“I know it’s terrible getting that with 10 days off,” said Boateng. “It’s all we’re going to be thinking about. It’s usually great to get a result going into the break. Everybody feels good, comes to training feeling good, but this is a group that works really hard, and I think that guys are really pissed off – I mean, I know a lot of guys are really pissed off about the result.
“These next 10 days, we’re going to work hard and try to come out strong in the next game.”