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Defense lets Revolution down

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / September 9, 2011

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The Revolution finally had a breakout attacking start to a game when they faced the Philadelphia Union on the road Wednesday night. But they faltered in the second half, surrendering the final goal in the 91st minute and finishing in a 4-4 tie.

The goal production continued a pattern of offensive improvement for the Revolution (4-11-12, 24 points), who host FC Dallas tomorrow.

“Obviously, as far as good going forward, it was great,’’ said Revolution coach Steve Nicol yesterday. “We had the one penalty kick, and the three other goals were good goals. But the back four didn’t perform.’’

The Revolution held a 3-0 lead as A.J. Soares and Monsef Zerka scored their first MLS goals and Rajko Lekic converted a penalty kick. Roger Torres cut the Philadelphia deficit, then Benny Feilhaber gave the Revolution a 4-1 halftime advantage.

Philadelphia’s Freddy Adu broke through the right side of the defense for a 54th-minute score and the Revolution began to falter.

“They sent a lot of people forward,’’ Nicol said. “When you have four guys up front all the time, you’re going to end up with a game with chances. They were pushing forward with three or four up front and in the first half we managed to exploit that.

“But the second goal was crucial. It came at a bad time. We wanted to start the second half the way we did the first half. But we didn’t start well, we lose a goal and we’re 4-2 up. And from where we’re sitting, what we’re watching is that they keep coming through us. So we decided to take Rajko off, to shore up the middle of field and kill their momentum. And we didn’t.’’

Pat Phelan replaced Lekic in the 58th minute. The Union’s Sebastien Le Toux was fouled by Phelan on a throw-in, earning a penalty kick and making it 4-3 in the 71st minute.

Then Phelan departed after it appeared that he was kicked in the head by Danny Califf; he will miss tomorrow’s match, according to Nicol.

This was the first time in Revolution history the team scored four times in a half in a road game. They tied a team record for away goals, last accomplished in a 5-4 loss to New York Sept. 17, 2005.

“You can’t hide behind the referee when you lose four goals,’’ Nicol said. “But there was a bad decision [leading to the final goal]. He plays advantage on a play in the penalty box when we’re a man down. If we take the free kick we would have had everybody pushed up but, instead, he’s playing advantage and they score 30 seconds later.’’

This was the seventh successive game in which the Revolution conceded a decisive goal after the 80th minute.

“The last four or five games we’ve scored some good goals,’’ Nicol said. “Unfortunately, we’ve let too many in. That’s why it’s a strange old game. The first half of the season we were not giving too much away, to, all of a sudden, we don’t seem to be making good decisions and picking up good spots.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at

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