But unlike their last two impressive victories over Colorado and NYCFC, the train went off the tracks this time. FC Dallas equalized, then opened the floodgates to storm to a 4-2 championship win over the visitors, sending the Revs back home with a title drought that now ranks as the second-longest in MLS.
“That one hurt because we started off so well,” Revs' playmaker and Dallas-area native Lee Nguyen said. “After that goal, it was kind of like we took our foot off the pedal, didn’t play our game, and we let them back in. Three set pieces in the first half, basically that’s what it was. We were down 3-1 at half against a team like Dallas – it’s tough to come back.”
Injuries played a big role in New England going down after their initial goal, with Gershon Koffie and Je-Vaughn Watson both limping off in the first half, leaving the Revs with only one sub down the stretch.
Koffie tried playing through his knock at first, but he wasn’t himself, which helped Dallas find space on their first goal from Mauro Diaz to Maxi Urruti. From there, the goals continued to pile up for the hosts.
“They’re tough. It’s part of the game,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said of the injuries. “I thought we had a good conversation at halftime, and I think we got kind of unlucky to give up the goal that made it 4-1. I thought we were starting to see it there. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep that momentum going.”
Added Nguyen: “That kind of changed our whole personnel. We had to move a lot of pieces. Unfortunately, that’s how it went. We had to fight through it. Dallas played great today, so credit them. They earned it.”
Dallas bossed the Revs in the middle of the field, routinely stealing possession back and blunting scoring chances. After their opening goal, New England did not get another shot off the entire first half before throwing numbers forward and firing 10 in the second while trailing.
“After the goal, I thought we stopped playing. That’s unfortunate,” Heaps said. “That’s where you want to continue to play. Sometimes getting that early goal makes the guys a little more nervous than they needed to be.”
Heaps said the game was a good learning experience for his team as they now turn their attention to finding a way into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. He continued to rue both the outcome and the circumstances leading into the game, however.
“I’m proud of the guys, because it’s not easy to play Saturday night and then fly out here and play on Tuesday,” Heaps said. “It’s a little unfair, but it’s the way it goes.”