FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Sometimes you just need to tip your hat to the opposing goalkeeper and move on to the next game, confident that you won’t always be denied by such a stellar performance.
That was the New England Revolution’s approach following Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union, as Andre Blake’s seven saves – several of which were of the spectacular variety – kept the Revs at bay despite a late surge at Gillette Stadium.
“I think the difference in the game was Blake,” said Revolution head coach Bruce Arena. “Blake made a couple outstanding saves. The [Teal] Bunbury header and Lee Nguyen’s free kick – those are two outstanding saves. That would’ve got us a point in the game.”
“He’s a top goalie; I think one of the best in the league,” added Nguyen, whose 85th-minute free kick was earmarked for the upper corner only for Blake to make a sprawling stop. “He can make outstanding saves, as you saw tonight. I think we were unfortunate not to get the equalizer, but we created a lot of chances and felt unfortunate we didn’t get at least a point tonight.”
Seven of New England’s 22 shots came in the final 11 minutes as they pressed desperately to erase a 2-0 deficit – created by an Andrew Farrell own goal and yet another brilliant strike from Anthony Fontana – and they nearly did so with a massive contribution from Tajon Buchanan.
Buchanan pulled the Revs within one with his second career goal – both against the Union – in the 80th minute, an absolute rocket which kissed the underside of the crossbar before settling into the back of the net. The 21-year-old then thought he’d found the equalizer just three minutes later when he turned home Bunbury’s cross, but the flag went up for offside to rule it out.
“I think they kind of hit a wall at the end,” Buchanan said of the Union. “We were pressing, pushing, and playing well for a lot of the game, and it was just a matter of time before they started breaking down. Once they started dropping off a little bit when they had the lead, the ball was going to be in our favor a lot more. We just were a little unlucky on our chances.”
The loss dented the Revolution’s chances of catching the 2nd-place Union in the East – they now trail Philly by 10 points with four games remaining – but their focus remains on cracking the top four and earning a home game in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
New England could clinch their spot in the postseason by next weekend, as they’ll set their sights on a fourth straight road win when they visit Nashville SC on Friday night at Nissan Stadium.
“These last couple of games are key to getting our form for the postseason,” said Nguyen. “We’re going to be tested with some big matches coming up. All these games, the teams, we’re all still close. We’re all still trying to clinch that playoff spot. It’s going to be crucial for us, these next four games.”