By Kevin Koczwara
HARRISON, N.J. — The New England Revolution were unable to close off its disappointing season with a positive result as the Revs lost to the top-seeded New York Red Bulls, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena. With the win, the Red Bulls clinched the Eastern Conference regular season title for the second time in club history and the first since 2000.
The Revolution (9-16-5, 32 pts) were unable to overcome a 17th-minute goal from New York’s (15-9-6, 51 pts) Dane Richards and a stoppage time goal from Joel Lindpere. The Revs loss snaps the team’s 2-game winning streak and a 14-game regular season unbeaten streak (8-0-6) against the Red Bulls in dating back to 2005 when the Red Bulls were still the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars.
The Revolution looked the better side early with a long effort in the 9th-minute from Marko Perovic giving New York’s goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul a tough time as the ball skipped in front of the keeper and the rebound bounced away. Coundoul was able to recover.
New York would pick up the pace though. In the 17th-minute Dan Richards broke free into space after Juan Pablo Angel sprung the speedy winger into the attack with a weighted pass into space out of the midfield. Richards took the pass into space and used his speed to get to the edge of the Revolution box and strike a shot past Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth into the upper-90 of the net.
“With a player with that pace, normally those players are not the technically best ones,” said Red Bulls manager Hans Backe about Richards play. “I’ve said the last six weeks, it’s more the understanding in his attacking game. To time his run, when to run behind, when to come short. And of course the distribution from the midfield has been much, much better.”
Richards would prove the only goal the Red Bulls would need on the night because the Revolution were not able to muster a goal in the game for the 11th time this season.
New England would get a few chances in the second half to try and equalize, but fail to finish on the opportunities that came its way.
Revs forward Ilija Stolica found himself at the right place at the right time after a long throw in from Darrius Barnes in the 48th-minute was dropped by Condoul in the box at the feet of the Serbian and Revs captain Shalrie Joseph. Neither player was able to do anything with the loose ball, both of their attempts were blocked by a host of New York players.
Joseph would again be int he mix of things in the 59th minute when he found an open Marko Perovic at the edge of the box wide open with a slotted pass. Perovic lofted the shot over the net and into the stands.
“We put together some decent stuff, got in some good areas. It just came down to that final ball, that final finish and we just couldn’t find it,” said Revolution defender Chris Tierney about the tam’s inability to find the back of the net for the 11th time this season. “That’s the way it’s been this whole year. Story of the season, I’m afraid.”
New York topped off the win with a stoppage time goal from Lindpere, who has been one of the team’s top performers and one of the league’s best offseason signings. The Estonian midfielder made a perfectly timed run through the midfield and second-half substitute Tony Tchani slotted a ball into Lindpere’s path and the midfielder finished off his third goal of the season and ended any chance of a Revolution comeback.
“He’s been our most consistent player this season,” said Backe of Lindpere. “I would say every game, his work ethic is phenomenal. We tried to play him centrally today to get a more lively central midfield, a little bit more dynamic, and that definitely worked.”
The Revolution has been out of the playoff hunt since the team drew with Columbus on Sept. 25 , but the team had won its last two games and looked to be playing better. The Revs looked to keep their streak of double-digit win seasons alive on Thursday night, but failed to do so with the loss to the Red Bulls. The Revolution had won 10 games or more five straight seasons. The last time New England didn’t win 10 or more games was back in 2004 when the team won 8 games, but that team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals of the playoffs.
New England set a record for the least amount of goals the team has scored in a season with 32. The previous record of 33 was set by 2009’s team.
The Revolution’s 16 losses in 2010 is the most by a Revolution team in the modern scoring era of the MLS where there are no overtimes or shootouts. The team’s previous high was back in 2004 after the league did away with penalty shootouts (1996-99) and overtime (2000-03). The team’s all-time record for losses is 1998’s 21 loss season.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at email@example.com.