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NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

July 29, 2012
UNION BLUES
Revs fall to Union in 90th minute


Saer Sene's ninth goal of the season wasn't enough to help the Union take any points from Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.
Saer Sene's ninth goal of the season wasn't enough to help the Union take any points from Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHESTER, Pa--There’s just something about PPL Park. It doesn’t like the New England Revolution, and they certainly aren’t fond of the Philadelphia Union’s picturesque little bandbox on the banks of the Delaware. Last year, the Revs saw a three-goal lead evaporate into a 4-4 draw. And on Sunday, a respectable one-point road draw was snatched away in the 90th minute, when Jack McInerney beat goalkeeper Matt Reis to give the Union a 2-1 comeback win.

The Revolution got off to a solid start, taking a 1-0 lead into halftime on Saer Sene’s ninth goal of the season, but a second-half penalty call, and Freddy Adu’s confident spot-kick, rejuvenated the Union and opened the door for McInerney’s late heroics.

The Union gave explosive rookie Antoine Hoppenot his first start of the season, and after a couple of early offside calls, he got his timing down and kept the Revolution backline scrambling. But while the Union attack crackled from the opening whistle, their backline was plagued by indecision and hesitation, and New England made them pay.

Sene’s opening goal in the 12th minute might well have been his second of the match, after a sixth-minute fiasco that saw Union ‘keeper Zac MacMath mishandle Lee Nguyen’s easy ball into the box, then fall and have to crab-scrabble around the penalty area chasing Sene, who had latched onto the loose ball. Six minutes later, the Union defense held back, giving the French striker all the time he needed to tee up a dancing 25-yard shot that took a last-second bend into the upper right corner. All MacMath could do was flail at it helplessly with his left hand.

The breakneck Philadelphia attack produced plenty of chances, but most of them were in the form of set plays, and the Union were no match for New England in the air. Michael Farfan and Carlos Valdes both lifted dangerous free kicks over the wall, but Farfan’s 36th-minute attempt dipped straight to netminder Matt Reis and Valdes missed the target entirely. Hoppenot, who has shown a knack for forcing costly errors by opposing defenses, bedeviled New England center backs AJ Soares and Stephen McCarthy, both of whom collected first-half yellow cards trying to control him. He also sprung Jack McInerney into the box in the 21st minute, and the Revs narrowly avoided a penalty when the Philadelphia teenager went down after being sandwiched between McCarthy and fellow defender Kevin Alston.

In the end, however, the most dangerous chances went to New England, and the halftime score could have been considerably more lopsided. In addition to Sene’s early missed opportunity, Kelyn Rowe advanced unchallenged into the top of the penalty area in the 28th minute, only to send his shot rolling just wide of the left post.

The Revolution came out of the intermission determined to put more distance between themselves and the Union, and should probably have had a penalty kick in the 49th minute, when Rowe found Sene low on the right side of the box, and the Frenchman’s shot was blocked out of play off Valdes’ hand. Sene, who snapped a four-game personal scoring drought with his first-half goal, got off two more solid shots before the half was ten minutes old.

Overall, the Revs began to control the game from midfield and threatened repeatedly. In the 55th minute, Clyde Simms took advantage of a Philadelphia turnover to bring the ball into the upper right side of the box and pop a pass into the center for Ryan Guy. Guy and defender Amobi Okugo slid in tandem for the ball, with Okugo making contact and narrowly avoiding an own goal when the ball blooped onto the roof of the net.

If the Revolution were lucky to avoid a penalty in the first half, they were victimized by a questionable call in the second that let the Union back into the game when McInerney tumbled into the box after being clipped from behind by Alston, and referee Edvin Juresevic pointed to the spot. Freddy Adu cooly slotted the equalizer past Reis and into the left side netting, giving the Union new life.

The goal energized the flagging Philadelphians, who were poised to take the lead in the 67th minute, when McInerney and Hoppenot both broke into the box. MacInerney took the ball deep into the right side, but was shut down by McCarthy, and eventually cut a pass back to Michael Farfan, who earned a yellow card for taking Soares’ legs out from under him while pursuing the ball. New England got the ball, but soon after lost Soares, who was subbed out for Darrius Barnes after his bruising afternoon.

Newly-signed Revolution forward Dimitry Imbongo Boele made his MLS debut in the 69th minute, and was welcomed to the league with a hard knock from Valdes eight minutes later. Chris Tierney sent the resulting free kick heading for a dangerous spot under the bar, but MacMath kept it out. Minutes later, Shalrie Joseph, who came off the bench in the 60th, challenged MacMath one-on-one, but put the ball on top of the goal.

Imbongo battled Valdes again in the 80th minute, with a dangerous charge into the top of the box, but the Union defender came up with an athletic tackle to defuse the danger.

The teams continued to slug it out through the remaining minutes, with the Union carrying much of the momentum – and making a case for a second penalty kick when Barnes played Gabriel Farfan’s cross with his right arm. But things didn’t really get wild until the 90th minute. MacInerney got his head on Sheanon Williams’ looping cross just off the left post, sending the ball bouncing by Alston’s feet and past Reis, who had left his feet. In a frantic attempt to equalize, Guy brought the ball deep into the left side of the Union area, then cut a pass across the goalmouth for Alston. Valdes slid in to block the ball out of the goalmouth, and was left writhing in pain when the Revs defender came down on his left hand.

Seconds later, McCarthy – who has already been sidelined this season with concussion symptoms – crumpled at midfield with a bloody gash over his right eye after knocking heads with Michael Farfan. In the end, little of the designated four minutes of stoppage time was actually played, and the Union emerged with the win.

The result pulls the Union (7-10-2) into a tie with New England (6-10-5) in the MLS East, both teams with 23 points.


   
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