FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Hosting league-leading Los Angeles FC on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution knew they’d need to be at their best to take something from the match.
They weren’t, and as a result the Revs saw their unbeaten run end at 11 games (7-0-4) – one match shy of establishing a new club record – in a 2-0 loss in front of 25,515 fans in Foxborough.
“The better team won the game – no question about that,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “I think for us to have a chance to get a result in this game, we had to do better with some of the potential goal-scoring opportunities we created.
“We just wasted a number of opportunities tonight. (We) had a breakaway, a couple of runs at goal where we had a man advantage and didn’t make the right play. That was our theme in the attacking part of the field.”
It wasn’t that the Revs weren’t good on Saturday night; they just weren’t perfect, and to beat a team like LAFC – on pace to break the MLS record for points in a single season – they needed to be.
Trailing 1-0 to Diego Rossi’s early wonder goal the Revs had several chances to pull themselves level, particularly early in the second half. A 52nd-minute breakaway from Teal Bunbury stands out as the biggest missed opportunity, but there were several other instances where the final pass was just a bit off.
That left the door open for the visitors, who put the game away with a second goal through Latif Blessing in the 72nd minute. Shortly thereafter the Revs were forced to play the final stages of the game with 10 men when Antonio Delamea went off injured after the Revs had used all three of their subs.
“I think they just had a little bit more composure in the final third,” said Bunbury. “I think we were missing on opportunities – myself included. I think our final pass was off. We just didn’t handle the ball too well. We have ourselves to blame, but I’m still proud of how we played.
“We created a bunch of chances, but it stings. Losing at home, being shut out at home – (it’s) just disappointing.”
“We learned a lesson,” added Andrew Farrell. “I think we’re disappointed, because if we’d played our best, we could’ve had a different result. But you make mistakes like we did, against a team like this, they’re going to make you pay.”
Those lessons, according to Arena, will be valuable for this Revolution team as they head into the final 10 games of the regular season still perched above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. With seven of those games against fellow playoff contenders in the East, they’ll have everything to play for.
“Overall, I think it’s a good experience for us,” said Arena. “It supports some of the things we talk to our team about all the time … To get better and to compete with a team like this, we’ve got to be a little bit better in some of the things we do on the field. We’ll learn from that, and hopefully grow as a team.
“(It’s) good to see a quality team on the field like (LAFC), to play against them, and give our team a measuring stick as to where they need to get better. On the night, we’re certainly disappointed losing, but hopefully we can learn something from this.”