FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — For a team in dire need of three points, the New England Revolution entered halftime of Saturday's 2-2 draw with New York in an optimal position.
The second half, however, did not pan out as planned.
Milton Caraglio's first-half double staked the Revs to a two-goal lead at the interval, but the home side couldn't recover from the dual blow of Kenny Mansally's dismissal and Dane Richards' first goal soon after play resumed and eventually conceded the two points with three minutes to play.
“You know we could have done things better, obviously,” Revolution defender A.J. Soares told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “There’s a lot of things to be said about that, but at the end of the day, you really just have to lock it down.”
New York's improvement after a dire opening half played some role, but Soares said he and his teammates needed to exert more pressure and push higher up the field instead of sagging back and soaking up the Red Bulls' attacking forays.
“You just have to beat the guy you’re playing against,” Soares said. “They came back and looked strong. We didn’t get a lot of pressure to the ball and then we gave up a lot of possession and gave them a lot of chances to just walk the ball down the field and create something. So, if we prevent that, maybe we win that game.”
Richards eventually converted on two of those opportunities — one sumptuous long feed from Tim Ream to catch out the Revs' high line and one created by a match-tying cross from Joel Lindpere — to exploit the Revs at the back and leave New England boss Steve Nicol to once again lament his side's inability to avoid crippling mistakes.
“We made two mistakes and we got punished,” Nicol said. “That’s kind of been the story so far this season: When we have made mistakes, we’ve ended up getting punished, which is why we ended up with another point.”
New York's revival marks the fifth time in six games the Revs have scored the first goal of the game and ultimately ended the match without a victory. In those five matches, the Revs have accumulated just four points (0-1-4).
Playoff math doesn't favor the Revs
Saturday night's draw — plus the other results from the weekend — left New England (4-11-11, 23 points) nine points out of the 10th and final playoff spot with eight matches remaining.
In order to secure a return to the postseason, the Revs will likely have to hit the traditional magic number of 40 points and vault over at least six teams over the next eight matches. It will take a minimum of five wins and two draws to meet the typical mark for playoff safety (one that could change given the expanded playoff field) and mount a viable playoff push.
Reis suspension hands Murray a reserve opportunity
The fallout from Matt Reis' one-match ban trickled all the way down to the Revolution reserve team ahead of Sunday's 2-0 defeat to New York and ultimately benefited third-string goalkeeper Tim Murray.
With Reis suspended for the first-team match and Bobby Shuttleworth forced into starting duty on Saturday night, Murray played for all 90 minutes against the Red Bulls reserves.
“It's a great opportunity to get some minutes,” said Murray, who also noted how unfortunate it was that Reis had to miss the first-team game, on Friday. “It's been a while, but I've been fortunate to pick up minutes here and there by splitting halves or getting 30 minutes at the end of the game. It's definitely different to get a full 90. It's been a while.”
Machado continues to make his mark in reserve games
Revolution Academy midfielder Dominik Machado (Attleboro, Mass.) appeared in his fifth game for the reserves on Sunday morning.
Machado, 16, started and played for 60 minutes before first-team regular Stephen McCarthy entered the fray. The appearance against New York continued a whirlwind summer for the rising Attleboro High School junior with reserve matches and occasional first-team training sessions on the docket.
“It's intense, but it's good experience just playing out with these guys and getting called up to the reserve games,” Machado said on Friday. “I think I'm doing good. I'm a little nervous at times, but it's all right.”