Valuable road point tinged with disappointment: “Feels like we lost two”

Claude Dielna vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

VANCOUVER – The New England Revolution kicked off a grueling stretch of six games in 19 days with a valuable road point on Saturday afternoon at BC Place, but the manner in which they secured that point left the Revs frustrated and disappointed.

A first-half own goal and a Cristian Penilla special shortly after the break gave the Revs a comfortable lead over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but an inexplicable lapse saw New England concede twice within three minutes of Penilla’s goal as their 2-0 advantage was erased in a flash.

Teal Bunbury’s team-leading sixth goal of the season in the 59th minute capped a positive response to restore the Revolution’s lead, but Whitecaps midfielder Cristian Techera completed his second-half hat trick in the 74th minute to provide the final 3-3 score line.

“After we got the second goal, the mentality of our players was something that you don’t normally see,” said head coach Brad Friedel. “It’s just truly remarkable stuff to concede two goals in such quick fashion.

“We showed great character again to go 3-2 up, but then Vancouver piled on a lot of pressure. I think it’s safe to say that we should’ve done a much, much better job at closing out the game at 2-0.

“I feel like we lost two (points).”

It wasn’t just that the Revs conceded three times in the second half, it was the manner in which they conceded that confounded Friedel and his players.

Operating with wingbacks for a second straight week, the Revs set out to limit Vancouver’s width and their ability to whip in crosses, and for the opening 45 minutes, they did so. But that changed in the second half as all three of the Whitecaps’ goals were crosses to a wide open Techera at the back post.

“In the first half, we hardly allowed them to get a cross in the box,” said Friedel. “In the second half, I think they had more crosses into our box in the first six or seven minutes than they did in the entirety of the first half … It’s something that we didn’t want to have happen.”

Bunbury believes the reasoning behind those lapses was simply a lack of concentration.

“I think it’s just knowing that we all have to be locked in,” said Bunbury. “Usually after you score a goal, the other team, the first five minutes, they’re going to try to put pressure on you. If we all could’ve just been a little more tuned in the first five minutes after that (Penilla) goal, I think we would’ve done a better job. But that’s soccer and those things happen, and you kind of have to get on with it.”

The Revs will get on with it immediately as they’ll return home for a pair of games next week, hosting Atlanta United FC on Wednesday and the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. As they prepare for those critical Eastern Conference showdowns, they’ll pull the positives from their performance in Vancouver and look to build on them, while at the same time aiming to tighten up at the back.

“We’ll take the point, we’ll learn from our mistakes and we’ll move on to Wednesday, real quick,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner.