Only under these excruciating circumstances could New England treat a 2-2 draw at FC Dallas like a loss.
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Veteran poacher Jeff Cunningham extended FCD's unbeaten streak to 16 matches by snatching a stoppage-time equalizer to crush the Revs and send them home with one point instead of three.
On a night where Steve Nicol's side exhibited the ambition and the determination it lacked in its previous two road defeats, Cunningham's decisive intervention completed FCD's late comeback after entering the final 10 minutes down two goals. The events and final result left the Revs wondering what could have and probably should have been.
“We’re at that point where we need wins, so anything other than a win is a loss to us because it’s not going to help us in the standings,” New England defender Kevin Alston told reporters after the match.
For most of the night, it looked like the Revs would obtain that shocking victory and terminate FCD's extended unbeaten run.
New England pressed the initiative from the opening whistle and secured the early goal they craved after just five minutes. Chris Tierney looped a FCD clearance back into the penalty area and located Shalrie Joseph with his first-time ball. Joseph made no mistake from close range to give the Revs a surprising lead.
“The ball just came out off the corner and I saw [Joseph] kind of calling for it at the back post, so I figured, lob it up to the big guy and he took a great touch and put it away,” Tierney said. “It was a good start. It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t finish out the game.”
The early goal inspired New England for much of the first half. Improved work in possession allowed the Revs to press further forward, while an organized and tidy effort at the back restricted the home side to half chances. [inline_node:319016]
FCD blew their one significant opportunity in the opening stanza after David Ferreira scuffed his penalty kick attempt wide in the 34th minute. The Revs, however, likely felt the miss represented a fair slice of karma after Kenny Mansally appeared to cleanly knock away the ball on his challenge.
Though FCD improved considerably after the break, New England grabbed their second after 66 minutes. Marko Perovic took advantage of shoddy work out of the back by FCD and slotted a square pass for Ilija Stolica to poke home to double the advantage.
With the way the Revs defended on the night, it looked like the second goal would prove enough to seal a second road victory on the season. The rest of the evening, however, did not adhere to form, as a fatiguing Revolution side allowed FCD to find and exploit space in the attacking third.
“I think we played well in the back tonight,” Tierney said. “I don’t think they created too many clear-cut chances where you thought, ‘Wow, they probably should’ve had one there.’ We were solid tonight. We played a decent game for 80 minutes and just a few small mistakes bit us in the end.”
With 10 minutes to play, a series of letdowns allowed Ferreira to isolate Darrius Barnes one-on-one and tempt the Revs defender into conceding a penalty kick. Ferreira made no mistake the second time, setting up a grandstand finish.
Despite all of FCD's pressure, it looked like the Revs would hold out until substitute Eric Avila chipped the ball over the top of the defense for Ferreira to square to Cunningham at the back post for the last-gasp equalizer.
New England saw their protests about the legality of the goal unheeded – replays showed a tight decision as to whether Cunningham had strayed offside – and lamented the late defensive breakdowns.
“We were in good spots all night,” Tierney said. “[We] gave up the penalty kick and then the last goal – we’ve just got to try to stick with runners. We’re tired at that point in the game, but it’s no excuse, you’ve got to buckle down and finish out the game.”
Instead of celebrating a hard-fought victory in Frisco, the Revs will fly home on Thursday, trying to shake off the two late goals and the disappointing draw as they prepare for a visit from Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew on Saturday.
“You’ve got to put [the loss] behind you [and have a] short memory,” Alston said. “We need to win against Columbus, so we can’t dwell on this. It’s not like we lost, so when we do look back on this, we’ll just get ready [to play on Saturday].”