FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Leading up to Saturday’s match against Toronto FC, New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps stressed the importance of shutting the door on opponents when given the chance. But putting that message into practice proved difficult.
Eight days after conceding two goals late at Orlando, the Revolution watched another halftime lead evaporate as they were forced to stomach a 1-1 draw with the Reds at Gillette Stadium.
While Heaps noted that the overall performance was an improvement over the one seen at the Citrus Bowl on May 8, the result wasn’t any easier to swallow this time around.
“I think last week was 45 minutes of not playing well, and tonight was 10 minutes of not playing well,” Heaps said. “But it still cost us the same amount of points. So it’s still disheartening and disappointing because we hate leaving points on the table, especially at home.”
Much as they’d done in their previous three matches, the Revolution played well enough early to beat their foe to the board. Saturday, they were able to do so thanks to one of their most effective weapons.
On patient sequence along the right flank, Teal Bunbury drew a defender close before pushing inside for Lee Nguyen, who then sent it back wide for London Woodberry. With plenty of space to operate, the Revolution fullback launched a cross that found Juan Agudelo, who nodded it through in the 32nd minute.
“Charlie [Davies] and Juan both made good runs,” Woodberry said. “It was the just type of play where I got a lot of space, got to pick my head up, and got to serve in a good ball with a lot of time on my hands. Kudos to Juan for getting his head on the end of it.”
Agudelo’s goal certainly gave the Revolution a lift, particularly given the way the offense was operating. The squad was passing with precision, and it seemed that a second goal was imminent. And a second goal could have put Toronto away, particularly after leading scorer Jozy Altidore went down in the 19th minute with an injury.
“We could’ve done a little bit better to get a goal before halftime,” Heaps said. “But then there was about 10 minutes there where we were not good enough at the start of the second half.”
That disappointing form coming out of the break essentially rolled out the welcome mat for the Reds to get back on level terms. And Michael Bradley, for one, was intent on taking advantage.
On a powerful run in which he eluded no fewer than three Revolution defenders, Toronto’s midfield maestro sliced into the final third and deposited his shot inside the far post in the 53rd minute.
“Our second halves are definitely hurting us,” Agudelo said. “We just have to come out and focus on our second halves, work harder, and maybe defend a little bit better and maybe run a little more.”
The defending on Bradley’s goal certainly left a lot to be desired, but the Revs offense showed signs it was capable of reclaiming the lead and getting another chance to close out the game.
With full time looming in the 85th minute, Nguyen played a through ball into the box for Andy Dorman, who was immediately denied by Chris Konopka. A minute later, Bunbury sent it ahead for Nguyen, who pushed his shot just wide of the far post. In stoppage time, Kelyn Rowe crossed it for an unmarked Diego Fagundez, who steered his header well off target.
“I think we did everything but score,” Heaps said. “Those three chances stand out. You create that against a team that’s in a good block, and it’s difficult [to stomach].”