It was an ugly outside Boston between the New England Revolution and the Columbus Crew as the rain came down on the Gillette Stadium field turf Saturday night. It could have been the weather, the unfamiliar playing surface, or the American football lines that are no longer common in MLS, but the Black and Gold did not appear the same team from their recent strong stretch in the 2-1 loss.
Although Columbus and the Revolution were tied at halftime, New England had the better of the play in the first half. The possession statistics, an area the Crew typically dominate, were in favor of the Revs over the first 45 minutes.
Columbus forward Aaron Schoenfeld missed the chance to open the scoring in the initial stanza. After only 18 minutes midfielder Ethan Finlay flicked on a cross from left back Waylon Francis. His touch found Schoenfeld seven yards from goal, but the 6'4" striker couldn't covert, hitting his shot right to goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Two minutes later, New England scored on the other end when midfielder Lee Nguyen finished a similar effort to Schoenfeld's. Forward Charlie Davies flicked on a Teal Bunbury cross and Nguyen collected it before slotting it by goalkeeper Steve Clark for the 1-0 advantage.
The Crew were quick to respond, waiting just five minutes. Central midfielder Tony Tchani won the ball at midfield and played a long pass on the ground to a streaking Finlay. The midfielder's touch took him by center back and his finish leveled the game, beating Shuttleworth on the ground.
After conceding the equalizer, the Revolution became the aggressor, forcing Clark into two big saves. The first was a 25-yard rip from defender Andrew Farrell that Clark got his hand to. U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones saw his effort from distance tipped over the crossbar by Clark after he collected the ball and was not closed down by a Columbus defender.
Just before the break, Finlay and Schoenfeld combined in the New England box once again, but the similar to the first time, the forward could not convert on the cutback pass.
The Black and Gold forced Shuttleworth into a few saves to begin the second half, but it was New England that found the back of the net in the second half. The Crew conceded a free kick 67 minutes in, and Chris Tierney's ball into the box was headed home by Jones. The Columbus players argued for an offside call on the goal, but none was given.
A comeback became more difficult in the 70th minute when Francis was shown his second yellow card of the match. Clark came well out of his box to clear a ball and after it went out for a throw, Francis stepped in front of the thrower to prevent the quick restart with Clark out.
The Crew will not be happy with their performance in New England but will have to refocus ahead of a trip to the Philadelphia Union next weekend. Columbus will be without Francis due to the red card, but will also miss maestro Federico Higuain, who picked up a yellow card late in this match and will sit out due to accumulation.