Even with Taylor Twellman ruled out of the match through injury, Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan amply provided enough attacking flavor for the New England Revolution to erase an early strike by Edson Buddle, and they cruised to a 3-1 victory against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night at Crew Stadium.
While the Crew came flying out of the gates as they created scoring chance after scoring chance in the match's opening stanza, the Revolution appeared lucky to be going into halftime with an even scoreline. However, a timely goal for the visitors just before the whistle demoralized an otherwise promising half for the Crew.
"We fell asleep 30 seconds before halftime," said fullback Frankie Hejduk. "That just can't happen, but it did."
In added time, Jose Cancela provided service from a corner kick that Clint Dempsey headed home to give the Revolution that halftime lead.
"I think Stephen [Herdsman] was beat flat out. You need to be stronger than the man you are defending," said Crew coach Greg Andrulis. "Dempsey wanted it more than Stephen did. It is really that simple."
Despite dominating much of first half, the Crew trailed their Eastern Conference rivals at the break much to the dismay of Andrulis and Hejduk.
"We had a lot of chances in the first half and the game should have been over. We have to put those away," said Andrulis.
"We wanted to press and come out strong. It was a perfect start," said Hejduk. "Then, we lulled for a while. We had opportunities to put the second goal away and we didn't."
Striker Cornell Glen torched the Revolution defense for much of the first half with only one assist to show for his efforts. Along with Simon Elliott, he set up Buddle's fourth minute strike.
However, his later work did not make the score sheet as potential assists were denied when a Buddle shot hit the post and a Mario Rodriguez shot was cleared off the line by Revolution defender Joe Franchino.
"We are unlucky right now," said Glen.
Additionally, Franchino hustled back to clear a breakaway by Buddle off the line.
"I don't know that we can create any more [scoring chances]," said Andrulis. "How many more quality chances can you have and not put them away?"
The Crew began the second half with the same energy as the first half, but were unable to get any good scoring chances. The Black & Gold earned many corner kicks that didn't put much of a threat on Matt Reis's goal.
"We came out strong again in the second half," said Hejduk. "Too often, we play well when we are losing."
The Crew had seven corner kicks in the second half, but ultimately their fate was sealed by the Revolution's second goal off a corner kick.
"First of all, there were too many [set pieces]," said Andrulis. "We have to do a better job not giving them to a team that makes a living off of set pieces."
"Today we weren't good on our marks," said Hejduk. "They are good team and punished us tonight."
As Dempsey and Noonan both scored off corner kicks following Noonan's equalizer, they continued their hot scoring against the Crew. Both scored in the Revolution's 3-0 home win on April 9. Of their 13 combined goals, five have come against the Crew.
Even though the match represents the Crew's eighth loss in 13 matches, it may be the most difficult loss for Andrulis to handle.
"I still can't believe we lost 3-1. It was an unbelievable game. We had every opportunity to make the game ours and we didn't take advantage," said Andrulis. "When you give good teams an opportunity to stay in games, it will come back to haunt you and it certainly did tonight."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.