CHESTER, Pa. — The decision by referee Edvin Jurisevic to award a controversial penalty kick against New England in the 58th minute of Philadelphia's 2-1 win at PPL Park on Sunday night felt and looked like a turning point in the match. How could it not?
New England created the majority of the chances before the goal and held the lead through an early Saër Sène goal before the call. In the wake of Jurisevic's decision to award a penalty kick when Kevin Alston fouled Jack McInerney a yard outside the penalty area and Freddy Adu's cool conversion a minute later, the Revs allowed the Union to snatch a 90th-minute winner through a McInerney header.
That calculus, however, didn't quite sum up how the match unfolded in the final half-hour. Instead of folding up shop after conceding the equalizer and succumbing to a potential defeat, the Revs used the space afforded to them on the counterattack to create and spurn several good chances to claim the points for themselves before falling to defeat.
Full Highlights: PHI 2, NE 1
“I don't think [the penalty kick] did a whole lot because I thought we played well after it,” Alston told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Obviously, it sucked, but I thought we coped well and responded to it.”
All of those opportunities — a couple of breakaways for substitutes Dimitry Imbongo and Shalrie Joseph, plus a Chris Tierney free kick saved by Union 'keeper Zac MacMath — ultimately failed to yield the goal the Revs craved.
As the Revs pushed forward on the counter in search of the winner, the Union gradually took hold of the game through the midfield (aided by a halftime switch to a 3-5-2 setup) and ultimately found a way to translate their possession into the winning goal, according to Revolution coach Jay Heaps.
“Unfortunately, they ran numbers through the midfield and were slicing through the midfield a bit too much,” Heaps said. “That's where the game was really won: they'd go through the middle and then they'd go wide. They were getting some pressure wide.”
Union fullback Sheanon Williams underscored the point by curling in a cross from that exact type of position to prompt McInerney's late winner. Williams used the additional space on the right flank to serve an enticing ball for McInerney to head home at the back stick to give the Union all three points.
The bitter denouement left the Revs bemused at how their potentially promising night — including their response after the surprising penalty kick award — ultimately unfolded.
“We had a lot of good stuff tonight, a lot of good possession, a lot of good defending, a lot of good chances and, obviously, a great goal by Saër,” Revolution defender A.J. Soares said. “We have to try to finish our opportunities and keep the ball out. We've shown that we can do it, we just have to try to do it a little bit better next week.”