One would have thought the New England Revolution were up a man, the way they played the first 45 minutes against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.
But it was the second half, in which they actually were up a man, where the Revolution fell apart at Red Bull Arena, collapsing as the 10-man Red Bulls charged back for a 2-1 win.
Heading into the break, however, it seemed like New England were on their way to a second consecutive win. Following a crushing challenge by Matt Miazga on Lee Nguyen during extra time in the first half, the Revs not only hit the locker room with a 1-0 advantage, but they would gain that man advantage after the Red Bulls defender picked up a red card and ejection for his efforts.
“Two completely different halves,” said coach Jay Heaps to the media following the match. “First half I couldn't have been prouder of the guys."
Then the second half kicked off, and almost immediately the tide turned, when Dax McCarty lofted a shot from just outside the box that sailed high over the reach of Bobby Shuttleworth for the equalizer in the 47th minute.
“Up a man, I think we relaxed a little bit,” said Charlie Davies, who had the Revs up 1-0 in the 20th minute with his first MLS goal since 2011. “Dax scored one of those brilliant goals that kind of takes the wind out of your sails."
Down a man, New York consistently looked to charge over the top as they attempted to spring Bradley Wright-Phillips and in the 63rd minute those efforts paid off, after Lloyd Sam, coming up the right wing, halted and sent a pass behind the Revolution defense.
Wright-Phillips collected in the box, made a move on A.J. Soares, then fired a left-footed beauty that bent into the far left post for his league leading 18th strike of the season, completing the comeback against the shocked visitors.
“The second half was everywhere we didn't want to be,” said Heaps. “We didn't find the ball and we got outplayed by 10 men."
The Revolution, now 0-5-1 at Red Bull Arena, are faced with a two-week layoff ahead, stuck with the bad taste of this match, and left to wonder how they were unable to sustain a lead while up a player.
“It was like it was an amateur performance compared to a professional performance by them,” said Soares. “Super disappointing."