CHESTER, Pa. — The New England Revolution will have to wait until next weekend, the team’s home opener, to score their first goal and hopefully get their first win of the season after falling to the Philadelphia Union, 1-0, on Saturday.
Sebastien Le Toux’s first-half goal for the Union (1-0-1) in their home opener was the difference at PPL Park, where the Revolution (0-2-0) have not won in six tries.
“We knew it’d be a tough game, it being their home opener and I don’t think we’ve ever had it easy coming to Philly, and it proved to be that way,” Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman said after the game.
“We played hard and tried to win the game and we didn’t. Unfortunately we didn’t,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “We didn’t take our chances, but credit to Philly, they did.”
The Revolution, who made five changes from last week’s lineup that suffered a 4-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, struggled to get into the game early as Philadelphia pressed and pushed New England back into its own half right from kickoff.
Despite having little possession and barely being able to get out of its open half, New England had the first chance of the game when Lee Nguyen released Teal Bunbury with a through-ball in the fifth minute. Bunbury found space behind the Union defense and hit a shot right at Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who made the easy save.
The Union continued to press New England after giving up the shot to Bunbury and eventually got their first chance of the game from a corner in the 19th minute.
Maurice Edu made a run to the near post and placed a header that had Bobby Shuttleworth beat, but a Revolution player cleared the chance off the line.
The Union continued to press and it looked like Le Toux was going to open the scoring in the 23d minute when Shuttleworth bobbled a Raymon Gaddis cross at the edge of the 6-yard box and the ball fell to a waiting Le Toux. But he was unable to get a shot off as Dorman stripped him of the ball just in time.
Philadelphia continued to dominate play and was almost rewarded a few minutes later when Jack McInerney had a point-blank chance denied by Shuttleworth.
Philadelphia found the break it was looking for in the 31st minute when Leonardo Fernandes fought off Revolution defender Andrew Farrell, who was in the starting lineup in place of the team’s captain, Jose Goncalves. Fernandes was on the left side of the penalty area and sent in a low-cross that found Le Toux lurking inside the penalty area for a tap-in, giving Philadelphia the lead.
“It was a good smart play from their player, he shielded the ball well. Unfortunately, he goes behind our back line and we have to stay with runners. It was a pretty easy pass once they broke into our 18,” Heaps said.
For Farrell, the goal was a learning experience — this was the first time since college that he has played center back — and he made sure to learn from the mistake and not let it happen again.
“You could see that one play I stepped [up] and they got the goal off that and that was that one mental mistake and it cost us the game,” Farrell said. “Next time I learned, there was a similar play later on and the guys didn’t get caught on me, but they tried to lift me up and I did better.”
New England continued to struggle to work the ball on the field, but got its best chance in the 38th minute from a Shuttleworth goal kick. Donnie Smith won a header from the kick and flicked on to Bunbury, who was through on goal, but made the unselfish pass to set up Diego Fagundez alone with an open net. The 19-year-old had his chance spoiled by MacMath, who made a diving save with his legs to preserve the lead ahead of halftime.
Heaps tried to make a few changes at halftime to shake things up. He brought on forward Jerry Bengtson for Smith and shifted his team around trying to get more time on the ball and in Philadelphia’s half of the field. The move worked as New England began to enjoy more possession and pressed the Union more.
Fagundez, again, came closest for New England in the 58th minute, this time with a shot from 25 yards out that knuckled its way toward MacMath, forcing the goalkeeper to punch the chance over the net for a corner.
New England goes into its home opener next weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps winless and without a goal. But Farrell is excited to finally be playing at home again, where the Revolution collected eight of their 14 wins last season.
“I’m excited about being at home. Last year we did well and got some good results at home,” Farrell said.