CHESTER, Pa. – The New England Revolution continued their offensive onslaught on Major League Soccer. The Philadelphia Union, meanwhile, reverted back to their winless ways.
In a wild game at PPL Park on Saturday night, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez and Chris Tierney all had a goal and an assist to lead the Revs to a 5-3 victory that puts them in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference for at least a day, pending Sporting Kansas City's result on Sunday.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Revolution (6-3-2), who were coming off another five-goal effort in last week’s win over Seattle. AJ Soares and Patrick Mullins also scored for the guests as New England picked up their first-ever win at PPL Park in seven tries.
Vincent Nogueira, Sheanon Williams and Sebastien Le Toux were the goalscorers for the Union (2-6-5), who couldn’t carry over any momentum from their 2-1 midweek win over Sporting Kansas City that snapped a club-record nine-game winless streak.
The Union are 1-2-3 at home this season.
The Revs opened up the scoring in the 13th minute when Soares headed in a low, whipped free kick near the corner flag from Tierney. The set piece came after Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s muffed clearance went out of bounds and Aaron Wheeler committed a foul as the Union’s defense scrambled.
Fagundez put New England up 2-0 before the half with his third goal in the last two games and his 20th of his MLS career (in only 68 matches). Teal Bunbury got the assist after getting in behind the Union’s defense and playing a ball to the 19-year-old Fagundez, who shook off Ray Gaddis and beat MacMath.
In the second half, the Revs continued to pour forward in waves. Just four minutes after the halftime break – and a minute after MacMath made a diving save on Fagundez – Nguyen scored his fifth of the year, slicing through the Union defense in the box and beating MacMath to the near post.
New England’s fourth goal came in the 57th minute after Tierney blasted in a free kick from just outside of the box after a foul from Austin Berry.
The fifth goal came ten minutes later when Mullins, a rookie, scored in his third straight game after a pretty give-and-go with Fagundez.
Due to the absences of Brian Carroll (groin), Fabinho (suspension) and Maurice Edu (US national team) Berry and Wheeler were partnered together at center back for the first time as Amobi Okugo pushed into the midfield.
But with Philly’s backline struggling, Wheeler came out early in the second half in favor of striker Antoine Hoppenot when manager John Hackworth reshuffled the lineup – which did little to slow down New England’s red-hot offense.
The Revs were also playing shorthanded as defender Jose Goncalves (quad) missed his fifth straight game and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth was sidelined with a concussion he picked up Thursday in training.
But backup goalie Brad Knighton, who played for the Union in their inaugural season in 2010, made four saves, including a sensational diving stop on Andrew Wenger in the fourth minute that set the tone for the game.
The Union showed some life in the 36th minute when Nogueira hit an absolute rocket on a bouncing ball from Danny Cruz into the top of the net. But the Union didn’t score again until the 76th minute when Williams pounced on a loose ball and made it 5-2.
And despite going down a man after Cristian Maidana was shown a red card in the 82nd minute, the Union made it 5-3 in stoppage time when Le Toux buried a penalty kick – the ninth of his Union career (in nine tries).
But by then, it was too late.
The Revolution return to action next Saturday with a home match against D.C. United, while the Union hit the West Coast for back-to-back games against the Galaxy (May 25) and Chivas USA (May 31).
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Lee Nguyen||Is he "Nguyen-ing" the MLS MVP race? Ran the midfield imperiously and still had energy left to romp forward at will.|
|2||Diego Fagundez||His slow start to 2014 is just a memory. Showed quality on the ball, covered plenty of ground and his passing vision belies his age.|
The Revs can take heart from their No. 2 GK's sterling work. Set the tone with one particularly crucial early save.