By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The fun’s over in New England. A Revolution squad that was the toast of Major League Soccer just 10 days ago has now suffered consecutive defeats, falling to the I-95 rival New York Red Bulls 2-0 Sunday night for their first home loss to New York since 2002.
New England (7-5-2) had nearly all of its forward momentum halted going into the World Cup break –the lone bright spot was that the Revs put nine shots on target and were shut out, in part, due to a stellar game from Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles.
“We weren’t thrilled with how it went down tonight,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said.
“Look, we could have scored in the first 30 seconds of that game, we could have scored at various times during the game,” Heaps said. “I just thought we let ourselves down. The movement wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.”
After netting multiple goals in every game of a recent five-match win streak, the offense has gone cold recently and is scoreless in the last 215 minutes.
“We just have to keep our heads up and know that this break is going to be tough for us, but, when we come back we have to start where we were (during the winning streak),” said midfielder Diego Fagundez, who had a sublime effort in the 44th minute go off the left post.
“I think we’ve been streaky,” added Heaps.
The accuracy of that declaration has been reflected in the Revs’ results.
New England has beaten an impressive list of teams lately – D.C., Seattle, Kansas City and Toronto all come to mind – but then laid an egg two games ago, falling 2-0 to the Montreal Impact, otherwise known as the team with the worst record in MLS.
The Red Bulls, while a quality side in the long run, hadn’t won in a month entering Sunday, and they were missing five notable players. Dax McCarty was scratched due to a knee injury, Tim Cahill (Australia) and Roy Miller (Costa Rica) were away on World Cup duty, while Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave refuse to play on Gillette Stadium’s FieldTurf.
Sod was lain down for a Portugal-Mexico World Cup tune-up on Friday, but New England opted to change the field back over to turf for Sunday and Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said he used any perceived motivations behind that move to fuel his guys.
“Perhaps a little bit of gamesmanship on my part with them,” said Petke. “I said, ‘this is what they think of you. They’re really focused on two guys who won’t make it, and they don’t think much of you.’ I wanted them to have a chip on their shoulder about that, and perhaps they did a little bit.”
Heaps, meanwhile, was left grasping at straws as to New England’s lack of finishing touch.
“I didn’t like the fact that the last game was Saturday and we had to wait until Sunday to play,” Heaps said. “I feel like we were really chomping at the bit and to the point where maybe, we tried to overdo things today a little bit.”
New York, it’s worth noting, had four more days off than New England, last playing on May 27.
It’s not time to press the panic button yet – after all, the Revs are presently still atop the Eastern Conference standings pending D.C.’s game on Wednesday. But, a defense that has been among the best in MLS made uncharacteristic gaffes on both Red Bulls goals on Sunday.
Bobby Shuttleworth, who’s had an otherwise strong season, went crashing into Andy Dorman to take himself out of the play on Eric Alexander’s set piece opener. Dorman tried to shoulder the blame, saying, “I moved back to try to get out of Bobby’s way and I ended up getting in his way.”
On Peguy Luyindula’s 76th minute tally, Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves were both unable to clear it away, and nobody closed on Luyindula to deter his shot.
“It’s disappointing to leave this game this way, especially being at home and with the break coming up,” Dorman said. “We were looking to sign off on a positive note.”
Heaps said the team is ready to look itself in the mirror.
“When you go into a break,” Heaps said, “I think you have to collect and look at what you did well and what you didn’t do so well.”