Cursed Foxboro streak finally ends, 2:0
June 8, 2014
Finally! After twelve(!) years of futile Foxborough road trips -- including a couple of crushing playoff defeats -- Metro squeezed out a 2:0 victory on the notorious rubber turf in New England. The score and time of the year weren't the only similarities to Metro's last victory in Massachusetts; goalkeeper Luis Robles did his best Tim Howard impersonation in compiling 10 saves to shut out the Revolution.
With Titi Henry and Jamison Olave staying home due to New England's insistence on demolishing the grass field installed just two days prior for the likes of Portugal and Mexico, Mike Petke deployed a conservative, counterattacking 4-2-3-1 formation with Bradley Wright-Phillips as the lone forward. The wrinkle introduced by the Metro manager this time out was that due to Dax McCarty's injury, Ibrahim Sekagya was paired with Eric Alexander in the middle of the park. That allowed homegrown player Matt Miazga to make his first professional start in central defense alongside the poorly-coiffed Armando. Peguy Luydinula was handed the captain's armband, making the start behind Wright-Phillips after returning as a substitute last week. Bobby Convey moved into the left midfield, with Kosuke Kimura occupying his erstwhile slot at left back.
Much has been made, deservedly so, of the Revs' recent attacking accomplishments, and from the opening whistle they were the more dangerous side. Not even a minute had elapsed in the game when Robles was forced to parry an attempt by New England forward Patrick Mullins. Metro responded quickly through Chris Duvall's dangerous cross that Lloyd Sam headed wide, but the field still appeared to be tilted in the Revolution's favor.
The first goal of the game came abruptly in the 17th minute. Andrew Farrell was called for handling the ball on the left wing, and Sam stepped up to take the ensuing free kick. The excellent Englishman lofted a cross to the far post, and Revs keeper Bobby Shuttleworth dashed off his line to snuff out the threat. The netminder's decision appeared foolish as he ran into his own man, Andy Dorman, allowing Alexander to slip behind his mark for a free header that the Metro midfielder promptly buried.
While they may have been momentarily disheartened to concede at home, the New England players resumed their bombardment of the Metro goal a few minutes later. Time and again, Robles stood tall in the face of attempts that came from both far and wide, and though he was beaten by Diego Fagundez as the first half drew to a close, he was afforded the assistance of the left post. It was the least his charge could do in the face of such an outstanding performance.
Robles was offered no respite in the second half, with New England finding space to fire on goal over and over again. The Metro even had to deny Sekagya a likely own goal in the 70th minute with a superb fingertip save. Just when the usual sense of Foxborough dread started to creep in -- surely, there was a New England goal yet in the match -- the game was brought to a competitive end in an unlikely manner.
Off a botched free kick attempt by slumping substitute Jonny Steele, Sam headed the ball back toward the box, where Sekagya collided with the Revolution defense. The ball bounded off the bald Ugandan's head to the left, where an unmarked Luyindula unleashed a savage strike on the half volley that scorched the right side of Shuttleworth's net. Luyindula should have also had an assist in the 80th minute, but the inept Steele somehow made a mess of a perfect long pass from the Frenchman.
Just when the Metro faithful were starting to get cynical about this team's chances to contend, they were given the perfect result to go into the World Cup break. At what is nearly the halfway point of the season, the unlikely victory in Foxborough puts Metro squarely back into playoff contention.
Lineup: Robles, Kimura, Miazga, Armando, Duvall, Sekagya, Convey, Alexander, Sam, Luyindula, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Steele, Akpan, Lade.