FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Chris Tierney can’t put a finger on what’s keeping the Revolution from coming out of the gate strong. But he knows it’s not helping the club stay inside the postseason race.
Eight days after rallying back against D.C. United, the early goal reared its ugly head again on Sunday. This time, however, there was no coming back as the Revolution dropped a disappointing 1-0 loss to ninth-place Toronto FC.
“The goal just killed us,” Tierney said. “We’ve been talking about starts and how we need to improve them, and it’s the same thing tonight. We just didn’t start well.”
Not only did the Toronto players waste little time getting on the board, but they hardly exerted themselves in doing so.
Near the halfway line, Labas dispossessed the normally reliable Jose Goncalves and ran into plenty of space before Stephen McCarthy picked him up. But Labas faked out McCarthy and cut inside, where his first shot initially was denied by Scott Caldwell. Undeterred, Labas grabbed the rebound and punched it through just as the Revolution faithful were settling into their seats.
“It’s a tough one because we haven’t given away a lot of goals this year,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “And when you do, it hurts.”
But the early goal didn’t appear to crush the Revolution’s spirits. Rather, they reasserted themselves and found plenty of opportunities to equalize in the first half.
In the 18th minute, Juan Toja played a ball along the touchline to Dimitry Imbongo, who then veered toward the box before his far post pass was pushed away by Joe Bendik. But the rebound fell right in front of Diego Fagundez, who immediately fired a shot destined for the back of the net before Ashtone Morgan raced over to clear it off the line.
The Revolution claimed another chance to tie it in the 34th minute. Andrew Farrell, who contributed to the attack regularly in the first half, acrobatically bicycle-kicked a ball into the box, where Saer Sene headed in front to Fagundez. But for the second time in 16 minutes, Fagundez had his shot rerouted by a Toronto defender, this time by Richard Eckersley.
“I thought in the first half, our final balls were good,” Heaps said. “They had two balls cleared off the line. Credit their defenders because they made a couple of good plays.”
Although the Revolution’s attack was sharp in the first 45 minutes, they struggled to resume their enterprising form in the latter half.
With Toronto bunkering in and hoping to see the game out, Fagundez, Imbongo and Sene weren’t given the space they regularly found before the break.
“We just kept putting ourselves in a deeper hole in the second half by continuing not being able to finish,” Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen said. “It was a frustrating night.”
Despite their ineffective second half form, the Revolution managed to find a pair of chances for redemption near the final whistle.
In the 90th minute, Kelyn Rowe looped a ball toward the left post for Nguyen, who tapped the pass on frame. But Bendik raced over to deny the opportunity. Moments later, Tierney sent a ball inside the box for Fagundez, who side-volleyed his shot off the post.
However, a Revolution equalizer wasn’t meant to be against a plucky Toronto team that won its second straight by antagonizing its hosts for the duration of the game.
“We had plenty of chances to tie the game, especially in the first half, and we just couldn’t convert,” Tierney said. “It’s just an extremely frustrating night all around.”