Revolution Fall To NYCFC in Inaugural Match at Yankee Stadium
On Sunday, the New England Revolution fell 2-0 to New York City FC in front of almost 44,000 people at Yankee Stadium. It was the Revolution’s second loss in as many games this season, and they now sport the worst goal difference in MLS, at -5.
NYCFC’s home opener played out unevenly and a bit awkward on the new laid-down turf at Yankee Stadium. The field is the smallest a regulation-sized pitch can be, and that made for a cramped, awkward start to the match. Players fell down often, resulting in an ugly performance from both sides for most of the game.
The first fifteen minutes featured a largely aerial game without much strong possession from either side. In the nineteenth minute, however, NYCFC captain David Villa showed flashes of his former brilliance on a one-two with Ned Grabavoy that cut right through the heart of the New England defense, scoring on a chip to make the game 1-0.
The rest of the first half belonged to New England. Midfielder Chris Tierney carved up the left side of the field and whipped many crosses into the box. The Revs’ forwards, Juan Agudelo and Diego Fagundez, couldn’t find the back of the net to take advantage of these many opportunities, and the momentum was lost when the halftime whistle blew.
In the 59th minute, right back Kevin Alston left the match with an apparent injury, adding to the Revolution’s list of shelved starters (including Jermaine Jones and Teal Bunbury). Things got more hectic when NYCFC introduced forward Khiry Shelton in the 66th minute. He immediately forced the Revs to change their style to deal with his strong pace. Captain Jose Gonçalves failed almost instantly, bringing Shelton down in front of the net inches outside of the box in the 67th minute. He was given a red card and Andrew Farrell was forced to defend from the back alone.
With a man down and a one-goal deficit, the game was out of reach at that point. Former Revolution player Patrick Mullins (acquired via the expansion draft) added insult to injury in the 84th minute with a goal of his own.
While having Lee Nguyen back was a coup for the Revs, the loss of holding midfielder Jermaine Jones (out of the lineup, recovering from a hernia surgery) is proving to be a large contributor to New England’s slow start. The defense in particular is looking lackluster, but there will be improvements--Jones will come back, and Gonçalves and Farrell will improve their communication in time. The most promising performance (aside from Tierney’s play) came from goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who made seven impressive saves.
The Revolution will look to register their first points this upcoming Saturday in their home opener at Gillette Stadium. They will be playing against a Montreal Impact team that has a midweek CONCACAF Champions League tie to play. With a short-rest Impact and the push of home field advantage, New England just may get the win they’ve been looking for.