The Revolution would have sealed up a comfortable victory against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night had they not stopped attacking. But the Revolution quit pressuring Salt Lake’s back line after Ryan Guy scored in the 51st minute and allowed two goals in a 12-minute span to fall 2-1.
Referee Jose Carlos Rivero handed the Revolution a lifeline in second-half stoppage time when he gave Carlos Salcedo his second yellow card and called a penalty kick for the Revolution. But Saer Sene couldn’t convert from the spot, as Nick Rimando dove to his right to make the save.
Still, the Revolution never should have been in a position where a last-minute penalty kick would decide the game.
After they split the chances and possession with Salt Lake in a scoreless first half, the Revolution took control immediately after the halftime break. Guy scored his first goal of the season, and the fourth of his Revolution career, by volleying a cross by Kelyn Rowe first-time past Rimando.
As expected, Salt Lake pushed forward in search of an equalizer. And in their hunt for a tying goal, the visitors left tons of space behind the defense and in central midfield for the Revolution to exploit. But the Revolution exploited nothing, opting instead to sit back and defend a one-goal lead.
A frustrated Jay Heaps agreed that the Revolution should have maintained their offensive momentum during a postgame press conference.
“No lead is safe, ever,” said Heaps. “It’s a disappointing result and a tough one to take. We gave away too much at the end and a good team penalized us.”
“I was disappointed that we didn’t go for more. It was there. We needed to get the second goal.”
Sitting back against Salt Lake, who have a slew of dangerous weapons in midfield, invited a firing squad of scoring chances against the Revolution backline. Bobby Shuttleworth did his part, making five saves. In fact, both of Salt Lake’s goals were rebounds that came following spectacular saves from Shuttleworth.
First, Sebastien Vilazquez fired a low, hard shot six yards from goal in the 77th minute that Shuttleworth blocked. But Devon Sandoval slipped past Jose Goncalves and slid onto the rebound to level the game.
Twelve minutes later, a Javier Morales corner kick led to a volley from Kyle Beckerman that Shuttleworth palmed away. But while Shuttleworth was on the turf following the initial save, Olmes Garcia beat Andrew Farrell to the ball and fired into the lower left corner to give Salt Lake the lead.
“They started to play well,” Heaps said. “You have to give them credit, they’re a good team and they move the ball well. There are going to be spells when they get ten, fifteen passes in a row. They didn’t break us down until the second when we gave them a little too much and they punished us.”
The Revolution were fortunate to get a penalty kick late in the game to equalize. But Sene, who converted the only penalty kick he was afforded last season, shouldn’t have faced Rimando, one of the league’s best spot-kick stoppers. Sene, who came on as a substitute, is still finding his form after being sidelined since last summer rehabilitating a torn ACL.
“Lee Nguyen is our penalty kick taker,” said Heaps. “We have contests and the players work on it. Saer was our kick taker last year and he’s coming back into form. It’s a bad spot to be in in the 90th minute.
Nguyen wasn’t on the field because he was substituted in the 74th minute for Juan Toja. But the Revolution had other capable penalty-takers on the field. One was Guy, who had the hot foot having scored earlier. The other was Jerry Bengston, who Sene took the ball from.
“I was sending prayers and positive thoughts Saer’s way the whole time,” said Guy. “I think it was definitely going to come down to either Jerry or Saer. When you miss one, it’s you’re always going to say the other one should have taken it. But if he had put it away there would have been no problem.”
A win would have pushed New England back into playoff position. Still, four of the Revolution’s next five games are at home, meaning that there are still plenty of opportunities to move up the standings. New England have to learn keep attacking, no matter what the lead, starting now with a game against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“We don’t have to wait this long to turn this one around,” finished Guy. “This isn’t going to hinder us in continuing to get points.”
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