By Kevin Koczwara
It wasn’t the type of ending the New England Revolution worked for in Dallas, or deserved, after they took a 2-0 lead into the 80th minute.
But a penalty from David Ferreira in the 80th minute and a last gasp stoppage time goal from Jeff Cunningham sealed a 2-2 draw for FC Dallas to keep their 16 game unbeaten steak alive.
The Revolution (7-14-4, 25 points) looked poised to end its dreadful road trip with a much needed three points in Dallas (10-2-13, 43 pts.) as the team fights for a playoff spot. Heading into Pizza Hut Park, the Revs had been shutout on the road, 5-0, and made a habit of allowing early goals.
But for once it was the Revolution who scored first. Shalrie Joseph scored his first goal of the season in the fifth minute and things looked to be going the Revs way for once.
“Lucky for me it [the goal] came early in the game which settled the team a little bit and allows us to play,” said Joseph at practice on Friday.
Ilija Stolica added a second goal, his third of the season, for the Revolution in the 66th minute. New England looked to be sitting pretty, but the game fell apart when Revs defender Darius Barnes took don Ferreira at the edge of the Revolution box.
“We wanted to get that early goal, and once we did our confidence started lifting a little bit,” said Joseph. “With this team, once we get that goal I think everybody started relaxing a little bit more and keeping their head and concentrating more…
“We got that second one, but we still weren’t focused or concentrated enough for the whole 90 minutes that we needed to be. Then we let it slip in the last minute of the game,” Joseph added.
The Revolution had the Hoops beat, and they let it slip away.
“Having come back and giving up a late goal like that definitely left a sour note in our mouth,” said Joseph.
Sometimes Little Rest is for the Best
The positive thing about having a busy schedule for the Revs is that they get to try and clean the sour note from their mouth sooner rather than later because the Columbus Crew head to Foxborough today to take on New England in a game that could spell either the beginning of a playoff run or the end of a season for the Revolution.
Th Crew (13-7-5, 44 pts.) has the second best record in the MLS, but the Crew are coming off a short week like the Revolution. Columbus took a good thumping in Seattle last Saturday, 4-0, to the Sounders, but made amends in the midweek with a 1-0 win over Santos Laguna in a CONCACAF Champions League play.
The Crew beat New England, 3-2, on May 8 in Columbus thanks to a stoppage time goal for Robbie Rodgers. This time the Revolution will need to do better – their postseason life depends on it.
“We are going to definitely going to have to get three points, nothing less will suffice for our team,” said Joseph. “I think it’s the end of our season if we don’t get three points tomorrow.”
The Revolution is winless in its last three matches, the team’s last win came on Sept. 4 when it beat Seattle, 3-1. And despite an abysmal road record (1-10-2, 5 pts.) the Revolution is a confident side at home (6-4-2, 20 pts.). The team has made through a lot this season with major injuries, suspensions and some untimely poor refereeing decisions. The Revolution will have to prove that it still has some fight and resilience left in them.
“I think we answered the question [of resilience through this tough playoff push] on Wednesday [in Dallas], and we’ll need to answer the question again,” said Steve Nicol about his team going into its match with Columbus.
If the Revs don’t answer the call then they will surely be watching the playoffs from home for the first time since 2002, when Steve Nicol was appointed as the team’s manager.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.