FOXBORO- Two early penalty kicks and a brace from Marco DiVaio pushed the Montreal Impact over the Revolution, 4-2, at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night.
The Revolution fought hard throughout the game to earn a positive result, but were unable to overcome Montreal, who entered the match with the league's best offensive record, and were handed their worst home loss since May 5, 2010.
New England faced early obstacles, as referee Sorin Stoica red carded Matt Reis in the fifth minute for fouling DiVaio in the penalty area. Patrice Bernier converted the ensuing penalty kick in the eighth minute, firing at the left post while Bobby Shuttleworth, who entered the game for Chad Barrett following Reis' ejection, dove the other way.
"I touched him, but I didn't touch him very hard," explained Reis in the locker room. "Looking at the replay, it looks like he kicks the ball out of bounds. If he wants to give the penalty, fine. But I completely disagree with the red card."
"Bad decision from the referee," explained captain Jose Goncalves. "I don't see why he should give the red card. I think Matt went for the ball. DiVaio played it well. The ball was not going into the goal, it was going outside the goal. So smart play by DiVaio.
Shuttleworth wasn't expected to save the shot since he came into the game cold, and appeared to brush off giving up the early lead. And despite being down a player, the Revolution also looked reinvigorated to fight for an equalizer immediately after Montreal's opened the scoring.
They pressed forward, employing a relentless attack, and were rewarded with a goal by Diego Fagundez in the 26th minute. Fagundez tried to play Dimitry Imbongo in behind the defense, but had his pass cut out by Montreal's Jeb Brovsky. The clearance found Fagundez, who continued his run into the penalty area, with nothing left to do but poke the ball past motionless Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
That momentum didn't last very long. Stoica awarded Montreal another penalty kick in the 33rd minute after ruling that Jose Goncalves knocked down Felipe Martins in the box. Shuttleworth guessed correctly on the place of Bernier's second penalty kick, but the Canadian veteran's shot still rolled into the lower right corner of the net uninterrupted.
"You can see Felipe was flying everywhere in the field when someone touched him," continued Goncalves. "The referee should be aware of that. He gave the penalty straightaway a second time and I was surprised."
Then, there was no doubting Marco DiVaio's class in front of goal.
The league leading scorer cut past AJ Soares in first half stoppage time off a cross by Hassoun Camara and slotted the ball inside the net for his 16th goal of the season.
"It's a great goal," admitted Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps. "It hurt us. We fought hard but we needed a little bit of luck to go our way but it just wasn't going to happen."
"Anytime you're a man down you have to assume you're going to defend more," added Heaps. "That's the top team in the league and they're going to do a good job. They're hard to play with 11."
His 17th of the season came in the 56th minute when he trapped another cross by Camara in the penalty area, cut past Soares again, and fired a low drive into the goal past Shuttleworth.
He finds his space," said Soares of DiVaio. "And they had a lot of space tonight because they had man up. He got his space, got his opportunities, had three impact plays on the game. That's what he's going to do in that situation."
"We can do a better job defensively probably but it's a tough task when you're down a man."
Heaps tried to encourage the Revolution's offense by substituting Juan Toja for Lee Nguyen in the 68th minute and Saer Sene for Imbongo in the 73rd minute. The switch worked, as Sene helped Kelyn Rowe score the Revolution's second goal.
Sene played Rowe the ball outside the penalty area, and then Rowe made a darting run into the heart of Montreal's defense before turning and curling a shot over the head of Perkins and into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
"We got back into the game 4-2, there were ten minutes left, a short amount left," added Goncalves. "So we tried, but it was not possible."
"We went on the field to do our best. One man down, we know it's going to be difficult. But we kept believing, playing the ball, and trying to create some space behind the back."
The loss keeps the Revolution in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, though they blew a chance to gain distance from Chicago and Houston, who are both right behind them in the standings. The Revolution's plays Chicago on the road next week and then have a two-game home stand again DC ans Houston. Anything less than a win in those game could potentially ruin their playoff hopes.
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