In a perfect world, Charlie Davies’ first goal in a Revolution uniform would have stood as the game-winner in a crucial conference clash with the Red Bulls on Saturday.
Nearly a full year after joining the Revolution via transfer, the Manchester, New Hampshire, native headed a Teal Bunbury cross into the back of the net to give his hometown club the early jump in the 20th minute. It was a storybook scenario befitting one of the club’s most personable players.
But in the second half, the Revolution were far from perfect across the pitch. As a result, Davies’ opening goal went to waste after Dax McCarty set the stage for an improbable 2-1 comeback win for the shorthanded Red Bulls.
“It’s a killer,” Davies told the media in reference to McCarty’s 47th-minute equalizer. “I think everyone knows when you’re up at halftime, the first 10 minutes are the most important for the rest of the match.”
Knowing the situation is one thing; executing accordingly is another thing entirely. And for evidence of that difference, all you need to do is cue the game film for the final 45 minutes of Saturday’s match.
Despite going a man down due to Matt Miazga’s red card right before the break, the 10-man Red Bulls came out for the second half inspired and energized. Whether it was coach Mike Petke’s pointed words about his team’s first-half performance or simply the team taking charge of a situation in which there was nothing to lose, the Red Bulls wasted no time putting their stamp in the second stanza.
After collecting a failed clearance inside the Revolution end, Eric Alexander -- who entered the game at the start of the second half for an injured Tim Cahill -- put a ball right in front of McCarty. With Bobby Shuttleworth off his line, McCarty chipped the ball from 20 yards before it gently fell into the back of the net.
“Dax scored one of those brilliant goals that kind of takes the wind out of your sails,” Davies said. “I don’t think we ever really recovered from that.”
Further proof that the Revolution simply were not up to the task in the second half appeared in the 63rd minute. Lloyd Sam played a ball ahead to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who then went into the area, juked A.J. Soares and calmly tucked his shot inside the far post to score the game-winner.
The second half was a stark departure from the kind of soccer the Revolution displayed in the first 45 minutes. Davies, who earned his second straight start on Saturday, was a force up front. He linked well with his wingers and sharpened the attack with his positioning and pace.
His goal was well-deserved, to be sure. But even though he spoke about what the goal meant for him going forward, it was clear to see that he wished it would have held up in the second half.
“(I‘m) over the moon to get my first goal in a while,” Davies said. “Now you can play a little bit more freely when you don’t have that pressure getting that first goal. It’s a header too; I’m not the best at headers. I was able to keep it on goal and it was a great start to the game. I thought we came out with the right intentions; we kept the ball well. I think, up a man, we relaxed a little bit.”