For the sixth time in their last eight matches, the New England Revolution squandered a lead and dropped points on Sunday, taking a 1-0 advantage deep into the second half before allowing Chris Rolfe to score in the 70th and 81st minutes to fall 2-1 at D.C. United.
The trend isn’t exactly befitting of a second-place team, and on Sunday it cost the Revs in the Eastern Conference standings, with the result putting New England seven points behind D.C. for the East lead.
“Very frustrating,” head coach Jay Heaps said after the match. “Disappointed with how we handled the second half. We weren’t good with the ball. That’s what frustrates me most. There was really no pressure and we kept giving it back, giving it back. I don’t know where that comes from, and that’s a mental lapse. We can keep the ball when we want to, but we didn’t.”
“It’s obviously not what we wanted,” added midfielder Lee Nguyen. “It’s just one of those games where we’ve got to close them out and we didn’t. You let a team like D.C. hand around long enough, they’re going to find holes and that’s what happened.”
It was Nguyen who set up New England’s opener, latching on to a flicked Teal Bunbury through ball in the right side of the area and crossing to Charlie Davies for a 10th minute strike. New England controlled most of the rest of the first half, but the sweltering D.C. weather eventually took its toll, with many players on both sides growing visibly fatigued.
The heat led to some earlier-than-usual changes from Heaps, who was hoping that fresh legs would solve New England’s possession problems.
“You’re playing in 93 degrees,” Heaps said. “We have guys that we spoke to at halftime that were gassed. We had to make subs, unfortunately, we didn’t get a lift from the changes.
“Both teams had to deal with it. That’s why you want to keep the ball, so you don’t have to defend for an extended period of time.”
Moments after the Revs subbed Steve Neumann in for Andy Dorman, D.C. United leveled with Fabian Espindola beautifully working the right side of the box before crossing over to Rolfe – a Revs killer – for a close-range finish.
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Minutes later Neumann brought down Miguel Aguilar just inside the box, giving United a penalty kick that Rolfe buried in the 81st to sink the Revs. New England don’t have much time to dwell on their frustration; the Revs return to action on Wednesday, again hitting the road to take on Columbus Crew SC.
“It’s disappointing, it’s deflating,” said Davies. “To give up two goals in such a short span of time, it’s tough to handle. Again we have to move on, we have a big game Wednesday against Columbus, so we have to shift to that now.”