HARRISON, N.J. – The end of a long and painful drought created a ray of hope for New England in its 2-1 defeat at New York on Friday night.
When Zak Boggs tucked home Chris Tierney's cross after 54 minutes to cut the Red Bulls' advantage in half, he gave the Revs their first goal from the run of play in 601 minutes and their first goal of any sort in the past 168 minutes.
New England pushed forward in the wake of the breakthrough and created a bevy of chances that ultimately did not yield a result.
“I thought we played as good as we have all season,” Boggs told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “At the start of the second half, we came out firing. We were unlucky to not get another goal. It was promising and it was positive. That's what we said at halftime: be positive.”
It took quite a bit of character to enact that advice after the Revs threw away an opportunity to take the lead in the 34th minute. Rajko Lekic drew a penalty when Stephen Keel dragged him down, but Shalrie Joseph's effort allowed Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton to make a diving save to his left.
The penalty miss knocked the Revs off their stride and permitted the Red Bulls to take the lead three minutes later when Ryan Cochrane turned Thierry Henry's low cross into his own net.
“When that [penalty miss] happens, the home team gets a lift from it and we get a wee knockdown from it,” Revs head coach Steve Nicol said. “The following five or 10 minutes are crucial that we don't do anything silly. Unfortunately, we gave the ball away in the wrong place and got punished for it. One-nil down at halftime and, really, they hadn't cut us apart or anything. Everything they ended up getting was starting from our mistakes.”
Matters deteriorated even further five minutes after halftime. Henry gathered a long ball from Keel, twisted his way around Cochrane and tucked home the second goal. Henry's goal – plus the earlier own goal – prompted Cochrane to shoulder the blame for the defeat after the match.
“Any way you look at it, tonight's on me,” Cochrane said. “It just wasn't good enough. There were two mistakes that cost us the game and they were both mine. People can look at it and write different things about it, but it wasn't our possession, it wasn't our lack of scoring. It was just two of my mistakes tonight. I take full blame. I wasn't physical enough. I wasn't tight enough to Henry. All around, it just wasn't a good night.”
Boggs made it just a little bit better by converting Chris Tierney's cross four minutes later to throw the Revs a life line. As Boggs reviewed his side's first goal in three matches, he credited the quality of Tierney's service for his goal.
“You don't know whether it's coming over the guy's head or not,” Boggs said. “You just react to it, but you have to expect it.”
The goal – plus the insertion of Kenny Mansally and the switch to a 4-4-2 formation – urged the Revs forward. Several chances – including a Lekic header correctly ruled out for offside with three minutes to play – fell by the wayside to leave New England to examine the silver linings of an improved performance before it hosts Toronto FC on Wednesday and Chicago on Saturday.
“It's getting old to say, but we're on the right track,” Tierney said. “We have to stay positive. We have two home games coming up, so hopefully we'll take six [points] from the next two.”