Nguyen, Revolution stop Red Bulls
FOXBOROUGH — No matter the state of the team or availability of players, the New York Red Bulls do not seem to have much of a chance of winning at Gillette Stadium.
The Revolution (6-7-4, 22 points) took a 2-0 victory over the Red Bulls Sunday night, their 17th home game without a loss against the Red Bulls dating to 2002.
Lee Nguyen got the Revolution off to a fast start, scoring his third goal of the season in the 24th minute. And newcomer Jerry Bengtson added the insurance score in the 84th minute in his MLS debut.
The Red Bulls (9-5-4, 31 points) were playing without six starters, including Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. Henry (ankle), named a starter on the MLS All-Star team Sunday, was held out because of the stadium’s artificial surface, according to coach Hans Backe.
The Revolution also made personnel tweaks. Bobby Shuttleworth made his first appearance this season, replacing Matt Reis in goal, and earning his first victory since 2010. Captain Shalrie Joseph (knee) also was held out of the starting lineup, entering as a second-half substitute in place of Benny Feilhaber. And Bengtson, who last week became the team’s second foreign designated player, gave the offense a boost after entering in the 60th minute.
“It’s not an easy transition. He literally signed his contract and joined our team within less than 12 hours,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said of Bengtson. “We have to manage expectations and make sure he acclimates well. And he’s done that. It was the kind of game — we want him to come in and fight for headers. I think you’re going to see more goals like that one, where it’s a poacher’s goal, he’s offside on the first part of the buildup of the play, but then he comes back onside and he fights off the goalkeeper and scores. Those are his kind of goals and we need someone to put those away.”
The Red Bulls threatened early with Dane Richards’s speed on the right. In the second half, Red Bulls striker Kenny Cooper hit the inside of the right post with a chance to tie.
“They didn’t have many chances — the one, Cooper hit the post,” Shuttleworth said. “I was kind of screened a little bit, and once it came off his foot, it was, ‘Please don’t go in, please don’t go in.’
“Last season was pretty tough for me, I didn’t get a win all year. First game this season to get a win and shutout feels pretty good.”
Said Heaps, “Bobby did an excellent job communicating, and he did well on crosses. Quite frankly, Bobby’s been playing well in training and in reserve games, and I take hard focus on reserve games.
“It was a combination of things with Matt — first of all, to get him a rest, this is the longest he’s gone without a break. Also, I think Bobby has been playing well enough to be out there. Also, we wanted to shore up, a little bit, some head balls. I think the last couple games we’ve given up some poor goals. I think Bobby has a presence in the air and that showed.”
But the Revolution were in control most of the way, a composed passing game setting the tone.
Chris Tierney set up Nguyen’s goal, advancing from his left back slot. In the second half, the Revolution went to a counterattacking game, leading scorer Saer Sene moving to the left flank and tracking back on defense. On the sequence leading to the second goal, Sene and Joseph played a give-and-go, Sene’s shot blocked by goalkeeper Ryan Meara. Bengtson scored on the rebound.
“I’m content, content for my first goal in my debut and for getting the 3 points,” said Bengtson, who will join the Honduras team for the Olympic Games after the Revolution-Toronto game July 14.
The Revolution surpassed last season’s win total and moved into a tie with Columbus for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
“I don’t want to use last year as any type of measuring stick,” Heaps said. “We’re a different group. We have different mentality, just like we’re a different mentality than the teams that were really good around here in ’05, ’06, ’07.
“I think we have a different style of play and we have different personalities, so to compare I think would be short-sighted on our end. From where I am, unfortunately we’ve let a couple of games get away from us. I don’t love that, but I love that our team works hard at home, plays well at home, and makes it hard for teams to play against us here. But in the end, we still have room for improvement, aren’t satisfied at all, and don’t want to use last year as any type of measuring stick.”
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.