FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution’s 11-game unbeaten stretch has ended after league-leader LAFC visited Gillette Stadium and blanked the Revs, 2-0.
LAFC didn’t take long to get ahead, and of course, the goal featured its 21-year-old star, forward Diego Rossi, in the 8th minute. Instead of taking a typical line-drive shot, Rossi saw Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner stand his ground at the top of the five-yard box, so the Uruguayan aimed to loop a chip over Turner’s head, and the end product looked like a golazo. Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena wasn’t buying it, though, calling the goal an “accident” despite its attractive look.
“He was trying to cross the ball,” Arena said. “That’s a classic, artificial-field goal. I’ve seen that throughout the years.”
In the 72nd minute Latif Blessing buried L.A.’s second goal. Eduard Atuesta zipped a pass to the left flank to connect with Jordan Harvey who crossed it into the five-yard box. Blessing gathered the ensuing cross and after pausing for a second or two with the ball at his feet, smashed the ball into the back of the net.
“If you make mistakes against a team like this, they’re going to make you pay,” Revolution defender Andrew Farrell said.
The Revolution were clearly pushing on the counter-attack when midfielder Cristian Penilla popped the ball up for a sprinting Gustavo Bou in the 14th minute, but L.A. goalkeeper Tyler Miller snatched the ball just in time. New England’s opportunity in the 39th minute had another threatening aerial ball; this time, Andrew Farrell was aiming for Teal Bunbury, but the finish wasn’t there.
In the 41st minute Farrell was his team’s savior as LAFC nearly doubled the lead. Carlos Vela whacked a shot that almost spun over the goal line following a deflection. Farrell slid and cleared the danger just in time.
Meanwhile, Adama Diomande made himself known right before the half. He fed Vela into open space, but the league’s top scorer redirected his effort to the edge of the five-yard box. Minutes later, Diomande split a couple of Revs defenders with a beautiful shot fake. Nonetheless, his inaccurate shot soared above the net.
The first half of action wasn’t obviously tilted in one team’s favor, even though L.A. had the lead. Both squads were moving the ball at a rapid rate, hoping to break the defense open by stringing together one-touch passes.
New England’s prime chance to level the match surfaced in the 50th minute. Penilla flicked a through ball for Bunbury who sped down the flank, finding himself in a 2-on-1 with Eddie Segura defending. Instead of passing it off to Bou, Bunbury took a crack at goal and missed it wide. He’s not regretful.
“Ten times out of ten, I’d shoot that one,” Bunbury said.
Arena didn’t feel the same way.
“I think Bunbury has to lay that ball off to Bou…There were maybe four or five plays like that. If you convert one of those, you’re really giving them a game, testing them.”
In the 53rd minute, Penilla crashed down in penalty area, and the home crowd roared in hopes of getting a penalty kick awarded in the Revolution’s favor. Only a minute or two later, the Revs were back on their heels with Vela sitting on the doorstep once again. This instance marked one of many instances when Turner — dubbed by Farrell as “saving (the team) all year” — came up huge.
About ten minutes passed before defender Steven Beitashour broke through New England’s backline. He lacked the crafty touch to edge it past Turner, however, and the Revs remained within reach to tie the game.
Once Blessing put LAFC up by two goals, it appeared the Revs were too far behind to mount a comeback. Their 11-game unbeaten run is over while L.A. continues its dominance at the pinnacle of MLS.