FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There were plenty of worthy talking points in the wake of Sunday night’s Eastern Conference clash between the New England Revolution and Montreal Impact.
Impact forward Marco Di Vaio scored his league-leading 16th and 17th goals of the season – in addition to being offside an astonishing nine times – while Revolution young guns Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe continued their hot streaks with a goal apiece.
But those storylines were overshadowed by a game-changing red card to Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis just five minutes into the contest. It left the Revs down a man for 85-plus minutes and although they battled valiantly, the hosts were unable to overcome the manpower deficit en route to an eventual 4-2 loss.
The play in question occurred when Di Vaio slipped behind the Revolution backline and whiffed on his initial shot attempt as Reis charged off his line. When Di Vaio recovered to push the ball past Reis and toward the endline, New England’s goalkeeper got a hand on the Montreal forward’s foot to send him tumbling.
Referee Sorin Stoica not only pointed to the spot to award a penalty – which Patrice Bernier converted against substitute goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth – but also sent Reis to the dressing room for a very early shower.
“I made a play for the ball and I touched him, but I didn’t touch him very hard,” said Reis. “Looking at the replay, it looks like [Di Vaio] kicks the ball out of bounds. For me, if he wants to give the penalty, fine, but I completely disagree with the red card. It’s the letter of the law, but it’s also up for interpretation.”
Reis reiterated that his issue wasn’t with the penalty being awarded, but instead the accompanying red card. It was a decision which left the Revolution scrambling to make adjustments in the early going and fighting at a disadvantage for almost the entire match.
“I think it’s harsh,” Reis said. “It changes the game. Five minutes into the game, it’s not that clear cut. If it’s a ball that he touches around me and I come through and I clean him out, fine. But it’s such a quick, bang-bang play.”
Although he watched most of the match from the locker room, Reis was nonetheless impressed with the spirit on display from his teammates following his ejection. Playing with 10 men, the Revs fought back to temporarily equalize in the first half and made it interesting with a late goal to pull within two in the final stages.
That’s something the Revs can take forward to next weekend, when they’ll visit the Chicago Fire in another match with massive playoff implications.
“Hats off to the guys, playing with 10 men for as long as they did,” said Reis. “To get two goals and to work as hard as they did was something we can look at and be proud of.”