In what looked to be a wet and messy game by match start, the skies cleared up for what would be a fair test as the New York Red Bulls faced the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium Saturday night. After a 0-0 first half and Red Bull star Thierry Henry remaining on the bench, scoring opened up in the second which lead to a 1-1 draw between the Eastern Conference foes. New York will remain on top in the East at 21 points (6-4-3), while New England sits at 7th place with 10 points (2-4-4).
Although the first half was rather uneventful, both teams had a few close goal opportunities. Possession undoubtedly favored the Revolution, not only capturing a 55.3% possession by game’s end, but out shooting New York 12 to 9 with three more shots on target. Perhaps New England starting Dimitry Imbongo over Jerry Bengtson was a factor in this regard. Imbongo looked as if he had something to prove in his first start of the season with his constant motor and ability to create one beautiful run of his own that almost lead to goal.
New England would strike first come second half, finally scoring from a corner kick in the 54th minute. Chris Tierney launched the ball out of the right corner as Diego Fagundez positioned himself nicely for a shot on goal. The kick was first saved by New York keeper Luis Robles but the rebound came right back to Diego who easily cleaned up the play for his second goal of the season. Criticism has come the past few matches for lack of offense from the Revolution but one thing is for certain, Diego Fagundez is doing his part in the Starting XI. It may look like a tough decision for coach to pick a pair of starting strikers out of group consisting of top talents such as Jerry Bengtson and now Juan Agudelo, but fans should hope Jay Heaps does not switch out Fagundez as he remains the hot player on the pitch.
The 1-0 lead for New England would sadly only last one minute. Just seconds after Diego’s score, the Red Bulls’ Lloyd Sam would catch the Revolution defense off guard and drive a grounder under Bobby Shuttleworth for the 1-1 tie in the 55th minute. The defense is partially at fault here, but it was rare to see Shuttleworth rather unprepared for Sam’s tough-angled shot. New York’s goal instantly took away the energetic atmosphere at Gillette Stadium and would end up being the last goal scored of the match.
The Revs have only scored two goals in their past three matches, leaving their banged up defense to do all the dirty work to stay competitive. It is clear the team misses leader A.J. Soares in the back line as well as Kevin Alston’s speed in the left back position. Even when the defense does hold, the scoring must not come so inconsistently. New addition Juan Agudelo hopes to change that, and if Jay Heaps sees Agudelo as the threat up top he claims to be, one can hope New England will score two or three goals per match more often.
Looking towards next week, the Revs will head to BBVA Compass Stadium next Saturday to face the highly-competitive Houston Dynamo (6-2-2). The match will start later than most in the MLS at 8:30pm ET.