The Revolution finally scored against the Philadelphia Union, but they surrendered an injury-time goal in falling, 2-1, Saturday night.
Substitute Anthony Fontana converted twice, including a long drive in the fifth minute of added time, as the Union (6-2-3, 21 points) improved their unbeaten streak against the Revolution to eight games since 2017. The Revolution (3-3-5, 14 points), who face New York City FC next Saturday at Gillette Stadium, have not won at Philadelphia since 2015.
With the Revolution playing at a numerical disadvantage (Matt Polster was red-carded in the 56th minute), Fontana opened the scoring in the 73rd minute. The sequence was set up on an Jose Andres Martinez advance, followed by an Alejandro Bedoya feed. Fontana chipped over a diving Matt Turner, finishing after a Kacper Przyzbylko shot was blocked.
The Revolution rallied behind substitutes Gustavo Bou, Tajon Buchanan, and Lee Nguyen, who made his first appearance for the team since 2017. Buchanan equalized with his first professional goal, concluding a give-and-go with Bou in the 81st minute.
The Revolution had lost, 1-0, to the Union and played to a 0-0 tie this year, and had not scored against Philadelphia since a 6-1 loss on June 26, 2019.
Observations from Saturday’s game:
▪ Turner had no chance of stopping Fontana’s spectacular shot, from the edge of the penalty arc to just inside the left post. The Revolution put themselves in a precarious position as Henry Kessler headed Ray Gaddis’s cross out for a corner. Then, the Revolution struggled to clear the corner kick, Diego Fagundez sending the clearance directly to Fontana. The Revolution had a chance to close down Fontana, but defenders arrived too late, and Fontana fired quickly and accurately.
The Revolution have allowed goals off corner kicks in the last three games.
“We conceded a corner that we didn’t need to concede,” coach and sporting director Bruce Arena said. “That ball could’ve been sent over the touchline for a throw-in. Having said that, we had an opportunity to clear the ball better on the corner, and then get to the shooter better. I think we could’ve done a better job defending that corner. As I said, give [Fontana] credit. That was a heck of a shot to beat Matt Turner.”
▪ Arena said Union players got off lightly after committing hard fouls, and Polster could have avoided being sanctioned. In the eighth minute, Polster was cautioned after losing possession on a Revolution throw-in. On the second yellow card, as Martinez started upfield in a possible counterattack, Polster grabbed his shoulder. Martinez went down and referee Guido Gonzales Jr. immediately issued a second caution to Polster. Martinez (20th), Gaddis (36th), and Bedoya (50th) had also been cautioned, but were able to avoid a second card.
“I think an experienced referee knows not to send a player off on a foul like that," Arena said. "If that’s the case, he probably would’ve sent off two players from Philadelphia with similar type of fouls playing with yellow cards. Really not a smart play by Polster, a player playing with a yellow card. In that game, they know the kind of referee that’s doing the game. You could be sent off because of the lack of experience that referee has. No excuses. I think Polster made a foolish play — losing the ball and then a foul — despite the fact that I think the referee was absolutely incorrect.”
▪ The Revolution’s starting lineup failed to produce, but Buchanan, Bou, and Nguyen changed the dynamic in the late going. The Adam Buksa-Teal Bunbury pairing did not click up front. Cristian Penilla, who has played on the wing for most of his 10-year professional career, continued to struggle in a playmaking role. Tommy McNamara seemed to be on the same page as Polster and Kelyn Rowe, but Polster’s ejection made it difficult for the Revolution to match up in midfield.
Bou and Nguyen were in sync in their first time playing together, and the Revolution were able to threaten, despite playing down a man.
“You could see his experience and his quality on the field,” Arena said of Nguyen. “We only played him 20, 25 minutes. We need to be smart about his minutes right now, but he looks like he’s going to be a good addition to our team.”
▪ The Union appear to have the Revolution’s number. Despite missing three injured starters, plus key reserve Ilsinho, and having only two experienced field players on the bench, the Union performed confidently. Buchanan’s goal snapped the Revolution’s 316-minute scoring drought against the Union spanning two seasons. The Revolution are 0-6-3 overall against the Union since 2017 and have an 0-6-0 record (2-17 goal differential) playing at Philadelphia since 2015.
“You know, 20 seconds left in the game, we have to be better on getting back and marking up on the crosses,” said Revolution defender Andrew Farrell, who surpassed 20,000 career minutes. “And then if we give up a corner, we have to clear the ball. We clear that ball and we’re away with one point even though we didn’t play our best game. Down a man we got a goal and tied it up. But no, it just kind of seems like a waste. Again, proud of the effort from everybody. We just have to be smarter at the end of the game.”