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New England Revolution’s first-half rally sends Columbus Crew SC home empty handed

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After taking an early lead, the Black & Gold failed to hold on and left New England with nothing.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New England Revolution Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Three weeks ago, Columbus Crew SC allowed chances to the New England Revolution at MAPFRE Stadium, but held the Boston-based side scoreless in a victory. On Sunday, it was defensive miscues that resulted in a 2-1 win for the Revs at Gillette Stadium thanks to brace from midfielder Diego Fagundez.

It would be hard to write a better start for Crew SC. On the road, the Black & Gold dominated possession in the early portion of the contest.

After 20 minutes, that domination paid off. Midfielder Wil Trapp floated a pass forward from inside his own half, looking to find striker Ola Kamara. Running with Revs defender Antonio Delamea, Kamara hit the ball on the half volley, curling it into the net for the 1-0 advantage.

Two minutes later and the forward should have doubled the advantage. Winger Kekuta Manneh got free wide and served a loss cross that skimmed across the face of the goal. Kamara was in the right place on the back post for the tap in, but couldn’t make contact and the chance went begging.

The Black & Gold would rue that miss just two minutes after that as Fagundez bagged his first of the afternoon.

A giveaway by Trapp near midfield led to a quick counter by New England that caught Columbus too far forward. Creative midfielder Lee Nguyen found Kei Kamara racing into the penalty box from wide and his low cross was perfectly placed for Fagundez at the back post to draw level.

In the 34th minute, the Homegrown player would complete the comeback. Center-back Nicolai Naess’ pressure on Kei led to the ball falling to Fagundez. He raced by multiple Black & Gold players before slotting the ball by Steffen to take the lead.

In the closing stages of the match, Revolution defender Andrew Farrell was shown a straight red card for a cleats up, high kick on on Columbus left back Waylon Francis, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.

While Crew SC created a few scoring chances in the second half — Justin Meram had a headed effort hit the crossbar and Adam Jahn was denied by New England goalkeeper Cody Cropper — it was not enough to come from behind on the road to get a result.

Tactical adjustments

Right around the time Columbus scored the opening goal, Revolution head coach Jay Heaps changed how his side was playing. Instead of the diamond midfield the team has employed recently, he adjusted to a flat midfield four to help gain control in the center of the park.

This lessened Crew SC’s pressure and played a part in the turnover that led to the equalizing goal.

The Black & Gold made adjustments at halftime, but with a lead, New England was able to sit deep and keep Columbus mostly in front of them, limiting chances and holding on for the win.

Pretty Pipa

There wasn’t a lot for Crew SC fans to store in the memory banks from this game, but there were a couple. One was the goal by Kamara, but the other was a beautiful move from playmaker Federico Higuain.

It would certainly be better had the played resulted in a chance, or better yet a goal, for Columbus, but it’s just fun to watch Higuain play right now.

Where they stand?

As of this writing on Sunday early evening, Crew SC is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-6-1.

The Black & Gold are tied for the most games played in Major League Soccer with 13, so those standings don’t accurately reflect where Columbus ultimately stands. Based on points per game, Crew SC are a spot further down in fifth, just ahead of Atlanta United.

Of course these other teams need to win their games in hand in order for this to matter, but the Black & Gold are getting closer to the playoff line and the team would like to be higher up.

What’s next?

On Friday night, Crew SC travel to take on Toronto FC at BMO Field. TFC is at the top of the East and just defeated Columbus 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium two weeks ago.

That game will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET.