CHESTER, Pa. – With scoring chances few and far between, Saturday night’s meeting between the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union had the distinct feeling of a game which would be decided by one pivotal moment.
Unfortunately for the Revs, that moment arrived for the Union in the 76th minute when Jack McInerney – now firmly established as a Revolution killer – scored the decisive goal to send New England to its first loss of the season.
“That’s pretty much how soccer goes; one play is usually the difference,” said center back A.J. Soares, who wore the captain’s armband in the second half after Clyde Simms was removed for precautionary reasons. “But like last week (in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire), it could’ve been us. We had the chances that it could’ve been our night.”
Lee Nguyen was the catalyst for the Revolution attack, setting up a pair of prime scoring chances either side of halftime. In the 35th minute his defense-splitting pass sent Jerry Bengtson through on goal, but Union ‘keeper Zac MacMath made a clutch save. Nguyen then engineered a quality chance for Juan Toja just two minutes after McInerney’s breakthrough, but the Colombian’s chipped effort drifted wide of the far post.
“I thought we were a step better in the first half,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “In the second half we couldn’t get into the game until they scored. Then after they scored I thought we had some good chances. We could’ve maybe clipped a goal; 0-0 or 1-1 was probably a fair score. But this game isn’t fair.”
McInerney punished the Revs on a set piece, an area in which they’ve directed plenty of focus after struggling in that facet of the game last season. Sebastien Le Toux’s corner kick found McInerney for a free header six yards from goal and although his initial effort was saved, he poked in his own rebound from close range.
“Set pieces determine the game a lot of times and you’ve got to get in the black on those,” said Soares. “We gave up one and we didn’t score any, so that’s how the game goes.”
Despite the disappointing result, the Revs were happy with their overall defensive performance as they limited the Union to only a handful of chances. As they look toward next weekend’s home opener against Sporting Kansas City, the Revs are confident the goals will come so long as they continue their solid work on the back end.
“I’m happy with the fact that we created some chances,” said Soares. “Our attack is looking good and I think if the defenders just keep defending hard and provide the guys up top with a couple balls, they’re going to do some stuff and I think our results are going to be more positive.”