ALLSTON, Mass. – Players and coaches, both for the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls, weren’t exactly sure what caused referee Jorge Gonzalez to reach for his back pocket in the 75th minute.
But Gonzalez did just that, sending off Revs’ center back Benjamin Angoua after a collision with Bradley Wright-Phillips, entirely changing the course of Thursday’s U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Harvard University. That controversial moment paved the way for BWP to bag his second goal in eight days against New England, granting the Red Bulls a 1-0 win over their longtime rivals.
One thing was clear though: The Revs were less than pleased with the decision.
“The referee said it was 100 percent, so it was 1,000 – 100 percent – a red card,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said. “I haven’t seen it, so hopefully he’s 100,000 percent sure like he said.”
Added midfielder and captain Lee Nguyen: “That kind of stuff, you have to be a little bit more calm. I know the emotions are high and whether that was a foul or not, you have to control yourself in those situations. That hurt us at the end.”
Angoua’s lapse doomed the Revs, who have surrendered late goals to New York in back-to-back games. On July 5, it was Gonzalo Veron striking at the death to grant Jesse Marsch’s side a 3-2 win, and this time it was Wright-Phillips finding net in the 87th minute for his first USOC goal.
The English striker made a darting run between Chris Tierney and Antonio Delamea, only to be slipped through by Felipe. He took one touch to settle, then bundled home past Brad Knighton, sending New York’s traveling fans into delirium.
While that moment stuck out, Wright-Phillips said it was never going to be easy once Angoua was sent off.
“Sometimes you play against 10 men and it’s difficult to find room, you’re not rushing plays, and everyone thinks they can just chill out,” Wright-Phillips said. “But we did a good job of keeping the ball and being patient.”
Their patience paid off in a major way, as the Red Bulls have stormed through the Open Cup amidst difficult circumstances. They’ve sequentially won over MLS foes New York City FC, the Philadelphia Union and now New England.
That feat wasn’t lost on goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who has backstopped them each step of the way, including two shutout performances.
“It wasn’t maybe the prettiest game or the best soccer played, but I think we outbattled them,” Meara said. “That’s what got us the win.”