Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
For 53 minutes, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution were locked in a classic Eastern Conference struggle.
Then, in a two minute span, the Revolution’s Diego Fagundez scored off corner kick followed by the Red Bull’s Lloyd Sam equalizing from open play.
After 90 minutes of play, both teams settled for a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. The result extends the Red Bulls unbeaten run to five games, their last loss coming on April 17 to Sporting Kansas City.
The draw also extended the Red Bulls’ club winless streak on the road vs. New England to 17 matches, with the last win by the club (known then as the MetroStars) coming on June 29, 2002.
Playing without a number of starters including Thierry Henry, Juninho, Dax McCarty, and Jamison Olave, the Red Bulls didn’t look like the team that arguably played one of their best 45 minutes of the season last Wednesday against the Montreal Impact. The Revolution were playing with plenty of attacking talent, though usual starter Jerry Bengtson was replaced by forward Dimitry Imbongo.
After a scoreless first half where Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made a terrific save on Imbongo, the match opened up in the 54th minute. Revolution defender Chris Tierney sent in another terrific in-swinging corner kick that found the foot of the 18-year-old Fagundez in the six-yard box. His initial shot was blocked off the line by Red Bulls defender Kosuke Kimura, but the rebound fell right to Fagundez who finished for a rare Revolution lead.
The goal was against the run of play as the Red Bulls started to look more likely to score, but they got an instant response. In the 55th minute, Kimura connected down the right wing with forward Andre Akpan, who fed Sam in the box. A good touch forward and a powerful low strike past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth gave the England native his first career MLS goal and sent him off on a wild celebration.
Revolution manager Jay Heaps brought on attackers with all three of his substitutions and were it not for the play of Robles in goal, the Revs may have won the match. Fagundez again had a chance in the box off a cross from the left wing from Tierney in the 80th minute, but Robles made a reflex save to knock the ball away with his legs, keeping the score level.
In the fourth minute of second half injury time, Fagundez had one last chance to find a winner but his first-time shot flew over the net just seconds before the final whistle.
Here are the match highlights: