By Kevin Koczwara
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Real Salt Lake had minimal chances and limited possession in the New England Revolution half of the field, but both Nat Borchers and Alvaro Saborio where able to get onto the end of two set piece balls from Javier Morales and give Salt Lake a 2-1 win over the Revolution. Despite out shooting RSL 20 to 6 for the game, the Revolution were only able to muster eight of their 20 shots on net and score only once because many of the team’s chances came from distance, while Real’s shots on net percentage was a perfect 50-percent with two of their three shots on net hitting the back getting past Revs’ keeper, Matt Reis.
With the win Real Salt Lake (14-4-9, 51 pts.) move into first place, temporarily, one point ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy who play Sunday night. For the Revolution (7-15-5, 24 pts.), the team has been out of playoff contention since last weekend’s draw with the Columbus Crew, despite putting in more positive showings as of late.
New England came out with high pressure from the start and pushed the tempo as they forced Real Salt Lake to play quickly out of the back, forcing plenty of turnovers and limiting RSL’s chances.
Sainey Nyassi found the first real chance of the game for the Revolution in the 27th minute when he struck a shot from 25 yards out with some venom and hit the cross the bar. Nyassi was able to find some space in the attack after Ilija Stolica set up the Revolution winger with a nice pass into some space after holding up play a bit.
Not taking advantage of the possession and the chances the Revolution had in the first half came back to haunt the team in the second half when Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers scored the game’s opening in the 68th minute.
Borchers found some space in New England’s box after getting free of Revs defender Emmanuel Osei, and with his back to goal, flicked on a header past Reis and into the back of net.
“It was a great ball by Javy [Morales] and kind of no-man’s land for a keeper,” said Borchers about the goal after the game. “If he comes out, it’s definitely in and if he doesn’t come out, he doesn’t have a chance to maybe make a reaction save. So again, all credit goes to Javy [Morales].”
Reis felt different than Borcher and put the blame on his shoulders for the goal.
“I would like to have that one back. I think I can probably come for that one and clean it up,” said Reis. “That’s the problem with my position, if you make a mistake it usually comes to bite you in the [butt].”
The Revolution went back to the offensive and were able to equalize in the 82nd minute when Kheli Dube released Nyassi on the edge of the box in on goal with a weighted through ball. Nyassi blasted a close range shot on net and RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was able to get a hand on it and pop the ball into the air, but the rebound bounced into the net to Rimando’s dismay.
It didn’t take long for Morales and Real Salt Lake to take back the lead though. In the 84th minute New England was unable to defend another set piece from Morales. Morales stepped up to the corner flag and drove the ball into the box, finding RSL striker Alvaro Saborio. Saborio outmuscled Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan to the ball and headed it into the net for the game-winning goal and his 10th of the season.
“They’re both basic error goals. If you go down to the park on Sunday morning you’ll see two goals like that, you shouldn’t see two goals like that on a professional football field. And that’s where we let ourselves down,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol after the game.
Revolution midfielder and captain Shalrie Joseph saw a similar story to that of Nicol’s with the goals and the second half performance as a whole.
“Especially in the first half, we passed the ball well, moving off the ball well – doing the things we’re supposed to be doing, especially against a team like Salt Lake,” said Joseph.
“In the second half, we just went away from it a little bit. We lost our discipline, we lost our shape and then something on a set piece – we gave away two set pieces goals. That’s stuff you don’t do if you want to be one of the better teams in the league. You don’t give away goals on set pieces like that…We weren’t good enough tonight, again.”
The Revolution will have a week to think about the loss and try and figure out how the team can better itself before it travels to Robertson Stadium to play the Houston Dynamo on October 10.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org