Winslow Townson / USA Today Sports
Nick Hawkins reports on the MLS match between the New England Revolution and the LA Galaxy from the press box at Gillette Stadium.
Both the New England Revolution and the LA Galaxy are not having the MLS campaigns they would have hoped for. The home side are currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, only two points ahead of rock-bottom DC United. The Revs have lost five in a row, and although some of those losses were perhaps slightly unlucky, they will need to find a way to get results if they are to make the playoffs. On the bright side, Jay Heaps now has Kelyn Rowe available for selection again, after he showed out well for the US National Team at the Gold Cup. The Revs, however, are still without joint-leading scorer Juan Agudelo and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, who are representing the United States and Jamaica, respectively, at the Gold Cup. Heaps has the likes of Teal Bunbury and Xavier Kouasse as options off the bench. As for the Galaxy, they’ve also lost their last four MLS matches, including a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Real Salt Lake. Gyasi Zardes is currently with the United States squad and midfielder Joao Pedro is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Both these teams are desperate for a win to give their supporters something to cheer and begin to climb back up the table towards playoff spots.
16′ Lee Nguyen (A: Diego Fagundez)
(A: Romain Alessandrini) Daniel Steres 22′
34′ Kei Kamara (A: Diego Fagundez)
Daniel Steres 53′
70′ Teal Bunbury (A: Kelyn Rowe)
73′ Teal Bunbury (A: Andrew Farrell)
Ariel Lassiter 79′
The Revs applied pressure early, with several dangerous crosses making their way into the box. In the 5th minute, Lee Nguyen toyed with the Galaxy defense at the top of the box before firing a shot on goal, which deflected narrowly over the bar for a corner kick. Kei Kamara nearly sent Gillette into delirium in the 11th minute after winning the ball and attempting to chip the keeper from 35 yards out, but his shot landed on top of the net. After the Galaxy started to work their way back into the match with some half-chances and possession, the Revs caught them on the counter, and it was the captain Lee Nguyen who found the net. Rowe got on the end of a through ball from Fagundez and was knocked off it in a tangle of legs with Jelle van Damma, but Nguyen picked up the pieces, carried the ball into the box, and fired a low shot to the far post to open the scoring.
Six minutes later, however, the Galaxy struck back to tie the match. In the aftermath of a corner kick, Romain Alessandrini picked up the ball on the wing and burst past Andrew Farrell before delivering a cross directly to the head of a wide-open Daniel Steres, who made no mistake from short range. Kei Kamara has failed to score since May, and in the 30th minute he missed a golden opportunity to end his drought. He was all alone 10 yards out from goal, but he sprayed his shot wide. 4 minutes later, however, Kamara redeemed himself. Lee Nguyen flicked the ball cleverly to Fagundez in the middle of the field, and the Uruguayan midfielder drove forward, drawing several defenders to himself before playing Kamara through with a well-timed pass. From a similar angle and position that he failed to score from minutes earlier, the big striker was able to find the net this time to give the Revs their second lead of the night.
Switching Romain Alessandrini from the right flank to the left was a successful tactical switch for the Galaxy in the later stages of the first half. Their leader in both goals and assists caused trouble down the left side, winning fouls and delivering balls into the box. On one occasion, Andrew Farrell was caught too high up and pulled Alessandrini back to stop the break, earning a yellow card for his troubles.
Jermaine Jones was an interesting player to watch in this match against his former side. He was not afraid to throw his body around, but it was to mixed effect. Some of his tackles were strong and fair, but he also gave away several fouls and overcommitted himself once or twice in the center of the park. He picked up a yellow card in the 24th minute for his second hefty challenge on Nguyen in a short span of time, much to the delight of the home supporters. Jones was substituted off at halftime.
The early part of the second half was all about the Galaxy, and in the 53rd minute the visitors found the equalizer, again through Daniel Steres. The goal also came in the aftermath of a corner kick. Giovani Dos Santos found the ball on the wing and whipped in a cross. After bouncing around in the box several times, the ball found its way to Steres alone inside the six-yard-box and he could not miss from there. As possession and dominance of the game started to swing towards the Galaxy, the roles were reversed as compared to the first half. It was now the Galaxy who were possessing and the Revs who were looking to hit them on the counter attack.
The Revolution took the lead for the third time in the game in the 70th minute, and it was a goal that came from a quick break through the center of the field. Diego Fagundez fired a ball to Kelyn Rowe out wide, and he had enough space to fashion a cross into the middle. His delivery was shaped nicely so that Brian Rowe could not come out to punch or catch and substitute Teal Bunbury made a hard run to the back post to get his head on the ball and score just minutes after stepping onto the field. In the 73rd minute, Bunbury struck again. Andrew Farrell cut a ball back to the top of the box and Bunbury pounced on it and fired home just past the outstretched arms of Brian Rowe. Bunbury has made Heaps look like a genius with an incredible impact from the bench.
However, in the 79th minute the Revs’ lead became a little less comfortable. Alessandrini once again beat his man down the wing and substitute Ariel Lassiter’s shot was cleared off the line by Andrew Farrell, but into the back of Brad Knighton and back into the Revolution net. It is yet another goal that has come from the Revs not being able to handle Alessandrini on the wing. All three of the Galaxy’s goals came from crosses that the Revolution failed to clear properly. It was a bit nervy from there on out for the Revs, especially considering that they have conceded late goals in both of their last two games, but they were able to see the match out for a much-needed win. The result will take pressure off of Jay Heaps a little bit, and they will go into their next match against the Philadelphia Union hoping to do better than their 3-0 loss last time the two teams met.
Once again, Diego Fagundez was outstanding tonight for the Revolution. He was lively the entire match, worked hard on both sides of the ball, and was confident with his passing and dribbling. It was often his incisive passes that were the catalyst for Revolution attacks. This was also the first time in his career that he was awarded three assists (including secondary assists) in one match, with two being direct assists and one being a secondary assist.
Moment of the Match
In a second half where the Revs were coming under a lot of pressure from the Galaxy, it was substitute Teal Bunbury that provided the home side with the outlet to regain the lead. The build up to the third goal was excellent, with the ball moving quickly and with purpose through the center of the field. Kelyn Rowe played in an enticing cross, and Bunbury showed great bravery and desire to get his head on the ball. Bunbury has recently felt that he is deserving of more playing time, and this performance will certainly help his case.
In Their Words
“I wanted to be starting the game, to be frank… If it was working hard defensively, if it was scoring a goal, getting an assist, whatever. I just wanted to make sure I could do whatever I could to help my team and to help us win.”
– Teal Bunbury
“All game I knew [Teal Bunbury] was stewing, he was upset. And you just knew that if we got him in the game at the right time, if the game was opening up just a little bit, he was going to be able to tear it apart… He turned that game on its head; it was awesome.”
– Jay Heaps
“I feel like we need to do a better job of clearing our lines and staying with the runners.”
– Jay Heaps
“If I’m not scoring goals, I feel like I’m not helping the team out.”
– Kei Kamara
“We need to close games a lot earlier so we’re not under pressure for that long”
– Diego Fagundez
Although three points will be a huge relief to the team and supporters in New England, the Revolution need to work on their defensive organization in the box. There is certainly credit due to the individual abilities of Dos Santos and Alessandrini, but the Revolution need to do a better job of both stopping crosses from initially coming into the box and clearing them convincingly once they are in the box. The home defenders lacked assertiveness and organization in their own penalty box, and the Galaxy made them pay. Thankfully for the Revs, the Galaxy were not solid enough defensively to fully punish the Revs, and the home side will come away from the match with a precious three points.