FOXBORO – When it rains, it pours. Well, at least sometimes in the case of the Revolution, who found a way to work the ball into the opposing net off a 73rd-minute shot by substitute Cristian Penilla to send a soggy Gillette Stadium crowd of 14,514 home smiling Saturday night after the 1-0 win against rival New York Red Bulls.
Revs goalkeeper Cody Cropper was sharp throughout, equaling his career-high with five saves, last accomplished April 13 against Atlanta.
“Just play simple. If we felt any pressure, we put the ball long over their fullbacks and make them play long. We did enough things right,” Cropper said. “Obviously, the turf was slick so the ball was coming faster. So, you just had to trust your instincts and believe that your teammates would be there to clean up if you made any mistakes.”
With the 96 percent humidity, both coaches made use of second-half substitutions with Diego Fagundez and Teal Bunbury leaving for the Revs, replaced by Juan Fernando Caicedo and Penilla, respectively, in the 60th and 69th minutes. Those moves played a key role in the hosts grabbing control.
Carles Gil caused disruption in the middle of the field and the Revs sprung to the attack. Caicedo sent a short pass to Penilla speeding alongside. His mid-range shot eluded Luis Robles, who clearly wanted a do-over as the ball nestled into the back of the net. Penilla’s goal brought a halt to the Revs consecutive minutes scoreless streak at 281. Gil picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
The victory helped to soothe the badly bruised psyche of the Revs players, well aware that a loss would have continued the woeful downward spiral to the early season.
“Right now, any win is huge for us. It was against our rival. At home, in front of our fans. It’s chilling. Obviously, it gives us a confidence boost,” Cropper said.
Steady rain but balmy 62-degree temperatures greeted the two teams onto the Gillette Stadium field as both clubs were in dire search of points. The Revs, now 2-5-1, were mired in 12th and last place in the Eastern Division with a goals differential of minus-7. By contrast, the Red Bulls (1-4-2) were in ninth place but dead-even in goal differential with eight for and eight against.
“Our goal in this game, believe it or not, was a clean sheet. We worked hard on that this week in the midfield. We wanted to make sure we had a far better block. When you have a clean sheet, it gives you more confidence,” Revs coach Brad Friedel said.
Revs defender Andrew Farrell, who became the sixth Revs player in history to surge past a milestone 17,000 career minutes played, led a charge down the right and sent a pass toward the front but there was no one on the opposite end to collect the 6th-minute offering.
Newcomer Gil, who notched three of the Revs’ five goals (second-fewest in the Eastern Conference) entering the contest, curled a low bid from the top of the 18-yard box in the 16th minute but the wet surface slowed the attempt and the ball rolled harmlessly past the right side.
A header by Fagundez in the 22nd minute badly missed the target but it came at precisely the point he needed to reach 15,000 minutes played, the ninth Revs performer in history to do so. The Revs later squandered an opportunity in the 34th minute when Gil slid the ball out right to a streaking Farrell, who fired high and wide of the target.
Much of the first half was played in the middle of the field, with little drama and few, if any, real scoring chances by either club.
Cropper foiled a hard blast in the 38th minute by Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski, a 28-year-old German on loan from Red Bull Salzburg.
The Revs finally managed to put a shot on target in the 55th minute when Bunbury steered a weak header that Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles easily handled. The suddenly resurgent Revs had numbers going forward a moment later but a Fagundez right-foot shot curled high and wide.
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