COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Trailing by a goal and playing down a man in the dying stages of Saturday night’s meeting with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the New England Revolution was left wondering how it had gotten itself into such a situation.
The Revs had started the match exactly as the game plan dictated, limiting the Rapids to a pair of long-range shots through 45 minutes while scoring a goal themselves as Benny Feilhaber’s first MLS tally gave the visitors a 1-0 halftime lead. It was more of the same to start the second half as New England conceded the bulk of possession to Colorado but rarely looked threatened in the defensive end.
“We wanted to keep it in front of us and try and stop them from getting in behind,” said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol of his side’s approach. “I thought we did a great job of that. And then the goal, it was a good header. [Benny] read it well and put it away. We came out at halftime delighted and we started the second half exactly the same as we did the first.”
But the tenor of the match changed dramatically in the 65th minute when the Revs simultaneously went down a man and conceded the game-tying goal. Chris Tierney’s sliding tackle brought down Sanna Nyassi as he shaped to shoot inside the box. Tierney was issued a straight red card and Caleb Folan converted the resulting penalty kick to put the odds decidedly in Colorado’s favor.
Despite their man advantage, however, the Rapids were limited by a spirited Revolution side playing at the tail end of a brutal two-game road trip. In fact, the home side didn’t register another shot until it found the go-ahead goal in the 82nd minute, and even then Kosuke Kimura never intended to shoot.
From well inside his own half, Kimura launched a hopeful ball forward toward his teammates streaking into the box. As Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis charged off his line to collect, the ball skipped over his head, fooling the veteran netminder and bouncing into the vacant net.
“The second goal only happens here,” said Nicol, referring to the altitude in the Mile High City. “The ball that we use is impossible for the players to play properly. It’s moving everywhere. Even the simplest things become difficult.”
Dejected by the method in which they’d fallen behind, the Revs could’ve packed it in and accepted their fate on a night when the ball didn’t seem to be bouncing their way. But the Revolution persevered, pushed forward in search of a late equalizer and found it in the 90th minute when Shalrie Joseph converted from the penalty spot after substitute Kenny Mansally was hauled down inside the box.
“To go down to 10 men, we’re thinking we don’t deserve this,” said Nicol. “You see the character of those players. We didn’t stop pushing and we got some free kicks, rightly so. To be honest, I think we deserved to get the point at the end of the day.
“This is our fourth game in 10 days,” he continued. “The heat that we’ve been playing in recently, for them to come back as I said for the fourth game in 10 days, to go down to 10 men and come back the way they did I think tells you everything you need to know about our players.”
Having taken four points from their two-game road trip through D.C. and Colorado, the Revs garnered some much needed confidence heading into the stretch run of the season. They’ll look to extend their newfound run of form next weekend when they visit LIVESTRONG Sporting Park for the first time to visit Sporting Kansas City.
“The D.C. game was positive and just putting two consistent performances together and getting points out of two consistent games is huge for us,” said central midfielder Pat Phelan. “We need to get points in pretty much every game but two more wins and we’re up to like fourth place (in the Eastern Conference). With a big game against Kansas City next week, hopefully we can continue our ways here and make up some ground.”