CHESTER, Pa. — The Revolution extended their unbeaten streak to six games and took sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night. It was the Revolution’s first win at PPL Park in seven tries.
Five players scored for New England (6-3-2), with three them — Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, and Chris Tierney — each adding an assist. Patrick Mullins and A.J. Soares also chipped in with goals.
“It’s never easy to play here,” said Tierney. “We know our record, we’ve never won here at PPL, so we’re happy to take the 3 points — that’s the most important thing, obviously. I think we could have managed the game a little better down the stretch, but we scored five goals and won the game so all in all it’s a good day for us.”
New England came into the game as one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer. Winners of three in a row and unbeaten in five, the Revolution had pushed their way toward the top of the standings.
The Revolution had used solid defensive play and timely goalkeeping from Bobby Shuttleworth to erect this run, but Shuttleworth suffered a concussion in practice Thursday and was unavailable for the game. His replacement, Brad Knighton, didn’t disappoint. The former Union goalkeeper made the best of the opportunity with a couple of acrobatic saves.
“This was a great game to get Brad into,’’ said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “He’s coming back to Philly where he played a couple of years and I think he was real excited to get the game.”
In the fourth minute, Union forward Andrew Wenger found space inside the Revolution penalty area and got his head on the end of a cross from Sheanon Williams 6 yards from the goal. The shot looked like it was destined for the back of the net, but Knighton got a hand on the shot and pushed it wide.
It looked as though Nguyen was going to have a chance to open the scoring in the 13th minute when he picked up a pass from Teal Bunbury on the right side of the penalty area, but the referee blew the whistle and called the play back because Bunbury was fouled. The Revolution didn’t waste the chance. Tierney whipped in a leftfooted cross and Soares attacked the ball at the edge of the 6-yard box, flicking it past goalkeeper Zac MacMath and into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
“Whenever you can get goals on set pieces it is very important. It is obviously something we work on a lot. Credit to A.J., what a great run and finish,” said Tierney.
Fagundez extended the lead 13 minutes later after Nguyen found Bunbury behind the Union defense with a chip pass. Bunbury took the ball down and waited for Fagundez’s run into the box and fed the 19-year-old for an easy finish. The goal is Fagundez’s third of the season and 20th of his career (68 games).
Vincent Nogueira got the Union into the game in the 36th minute with a blistering half-volley after the Revolution defense didn’t clear a long throw-in. Nogueira found the ball at his feet after Danny Cruz picked the ball up at the edge of the 18-yard box and touched a pass to the 26-year-old, who blasted a shot past Knighton, who had no chance to make a save.
The Revolution came out in the second half and put some distance between themselves and the Union with three quick goals.
Nguyen scored his team-leading fifth goal in the 49th minute after Daigo Kobayashi slotted a reverse pass to him streaking into the Union penalty area.
Nguyen beat one defender and placed his shot through the legs of another, beating MacMath.
Tierney stepped up to another free kick, this one at the top of the penalty area, and from 23 yards out went around the Union’s wall and beat MacMath to the far post.
Mullins added a fifth goal in the 67th minute that should have put the game out of reach. But Knighton’s night wasn’t done. He was called on again to make an acrobatic save in the 70th minute when Raymon Gaddis launched a shot from 25 yards that looked destined for the corner of the net, but the 29-year-old goalkeeper got a hand on it and pushed the shot wide.
“That second-half save against Gaddis, I had already turned away thinking it was in the upper corner because we had a perfect angle on that and [Knighton] pulled it back,” Heaps said.
Williams scored in the 76th minute to make it 5-2, and Sebastien Le Toux converted a penalty in extra time to make the game closer than the Revolution would have liked.
Union midfielder Cristian Maidana was sent off in the 82d minute with a straight red card for a high tackle.