FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution seem to be getting used to late-game letdowns. This time, the Revolution surrendered an 89th-minute goal in playing to a 2-2 tie with the Columbus Crew before a crowd of 26,421 Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
After rallying from a first-half deficit, the Revolution (3-5-2, 11 points) made most of the right moves in taking a 2-1 lead on goals by DeJuan Jones and Adam Buksa. But Columbus (3-3-4, 13 points) equalized as substitute Erik Hurtado finished a Derrick Etienne Jr. cross, before Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara hit the crossbar in stoppage time.
The Revolution, who play host to FC Cincinnati in a US Open Cup game Wednesday, started slow, Matt Turner stopping a point-blank Darlington Nagbe shot (14th) off a throw-in. Miguel Berry opened the scoring in the 27th minute, finishing from inside the goal area off an Etienne Jr. feed from the right wing. Pedro Santos set up the sequence, advancing on the left wing, then cutting in past two Revolution players.
Revolution sporting director/head coach Arena added Jozy Altidore and Emmanuel Boateng in the 67th minute, moving Jones to right wing in a 3-5-2 formation, and the changes soon paid off. Carles Gil found Boateng on the left wing, Boateng’s back post cross hitting Jones in full stride. Jones converted his first goal of the season, snapping the Crew’s 289-minute shutout streak over a four-game span. After Gil’s 25-yarder hit the right post (80th), Buksa broke the deadlock, heading in a Sebastian Lletget cross (82d). Boateng helped set up the go-ahead score, advancing on the left wing. Lletget then picked off a failed clearance and sent a left-footer for Buksa to head past Eloy Room into the far side of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
The Revolution have surrendered deciding scores from the 88th minute on in four games this season.
“At the end there — we conceded two goals there with our center backs not being able to get inside their strikers,” Arena said. “We did a very poor job in that regard. We should’ve walked off the field with 3 points. Our guys played very, very well in the second half. They really performed well. So I’m disappointed they didn’t get 3 points.”
Observations from Saturday’s game:
▪ Arena went to a three-back setup midway through the second half — Brandon Bye, Matt Polster, and Henry Kessler — replacing Andrew Farrell, who had been cautioned (58th). “We added a striker, played three in the back, two guys out wide [Boateng and Jones] we thought we could get some balls in front of the goal,” Arena said. “Gambled a little playing Polster in the middle there.” When referee Nima Saghafi yellow-carded Farrell, he appeared to indicate Farrell had earlier fouled Darlington Nagbe, but he had played advantage. It was the third foul Farrell has committed in 10 games this season.
▪ After taking the lead, Arena went to a 4-4-2 setup, pairing Omar Gonzalez with Kessler in the middle. On the equalizing goal, Etienne Jr. was isolated against Boateng, and Hurtado cut in front of Gonzalez to finish. Gonzalez has struggled against speedy forwards during Revolution losses to Inter Miami (3-2), when he entered as a late-game substitution, and D.C. United (3-1), as he was replaced after halftime. “At the end of the game you have a goal lead, you went from three to a back four,” Arena said. “Common sense, safety, it shouldn’t backfire the way it did.”
▪ Asked about the Revolution’s late-game collapses, Arena said: “Also really pleased with the ability to come back from being down a goal. I thought we had excellent control of the game in the second half. Scored two great goals, hit the post, hit the crossbar. Listen, every goal you can come up with a million reasons why you could’ve done better and we certainly could’ve done better on both of their goals. So that’s very disappointing.” Of the Revolution’s 18 goals against, seven have been converted after the 77th minute.
▪ Lletget, who has scored twice (one goal in the Champions League), has made key plays to set up goals in two of the last four games. “He’s more dangerous getting in the attack,” Arena said of Lletget. “Done a good job there. We’ve been emphasizing that to him. He had a good work rate, he’s winning balls defensively now, as well. He’s starting to play the way we expect him to play. I’m happy with the progress he’s made.”
▪ The Crew started with leading scorer Lucas Zelarayan on the bench, going with a 4-5-1 formation. The setup has been effective as Etienne Jr. and Santos, normally attacking midfielders, line up as outside backs. Santos and Etienne advanced on the wings to set up both goals as Crew coach Caleb Porter’s record against the Revolution went to 3-1-7. The Revolution have compiled a 1-0-3 record against the Crew since losing, 1-0, in the 2020 Eastern Conference final.
▪ Asked about the Revolution’s late-game breakdowns, Jones said: “That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We’re in such good position to win the game at home. We switched to four in the back just to lock things up and still gave up a late goal. So we’re going to look at it on film and we’re going to figure out what needs to be done. It was great we were able to come back, showed resilience, but we’ve got to close out games at home. We thought we had the numbers there, we got guys out but we just didn’t do well in front of the goal, and it cost us. We’ve got to stop giving up late goals.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.