FOXBOROUGH – The Revolution went all out in an attempt to revive their playoff hopes, but fell, 1-0, to CF Montreal before a crowd of 35,455 at Gillette Stadium Saturday night.
A victory would have moved the Revolution into a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but they squandered several first-half opportunities, then surrendered a 72d-minute goal to right back Alistair Johnston on a counter attack in a wide-open game.
The Revolution (9-12-11, 38 points) remained in 10th place, 3 points out of playoff position with games against Atlanta United Oct. 1 and at the Chicago Fire Oct. 9 remaining.
Most visiting teams play defensively against the Revolution, but Montreal (18-9-5, 59 points) disdained conservative tactics and appeared eager to go on the offensive from the start in extending their road winning streak to six games. Montreal was also willing to play through the Revolution press via patient buildups from the back through midfielders Samuel Piette and Victor Wanyama.
On the deciding sequence, Romell Quioto broke free and found Johnston at the back post after the Revolution protested a non-call handling on Kamal Miller, who had been faked to the ground by Dylan Borrero.
“I looked at the replay and it looked like he handled the ball,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “The VAR is highly unpredictable. This notion of clear and obvious, wouldn’t you think you would use video replay when it’s not clear and obvious? If it’s clear and obvious you should make the call. I think they’ve got the thing completely backwards.”
For the Revolution in the first half, Brandon Bye (ninth minute) missed wide; Matt Polster had a close-in try saved (12th); Carles Gil fired high after going in alone on Sebastian Breza (13th); and Gustavo Bou’s drive from distance was saved (21st). The Revolution stayed on the offensive in the second half, nearly breaking through as Justin Rennicks had a goal disallowed for offside (47th) and Bye headed wide (63d). Borrero and Giacomo Vrioni entered in the 64th minute, Vrioni firing high off a Gil pass (89th).
Observations from Saturday’s game:
▪ Defining moment: In the opening minutes, Gil slipped through the Montreal back line and had a chance to open the scoring off a Bou feed. Gil had time to take a touch and measure his attempt, but shot far off target. A goal might have given the Revolution momentum, and they did not get a better opportunity after that.
▪ Difference-maker: Wanyama’s composure helped Montreal control the midfield when it counted, providing a reliable outlet for defenders, and allowing the team to counterattack.
▪ Tactical analysis: Arena went with a 4-4-2 alignment, the two-forward setup allowing Bou to find space for shots and also set up teammates. The strategy helped provide opportunities, but the Revolution simply failed to finish.
▪ Statistical analysis: Montreal committed only six fouls, indicating they were comfortable containing Gil, instead of going after him physically; and got off 18 shots and 14 corner kicks, showing their intent to create offense. The Revolution attempted fewer shots (10), but had clear chances to score.
▪ Road ahead: The Revolution remained in playoff contention but they would be 3 points away from elimination should the seventh-place Columbus Crew defeat the Portland Timbers Sunday.
▪ What they said: “It was going to be a 1-zero game, I told our team at halftime,” Arena said. “And we had to be the one to make the play, and we didn’t. We had a couple chances in the first half, probably the better chances.
“We’ve just not been able to field our team this year. We’ve been behind the eight ball the whole time. These guys each game give each and everything they have. I think last year we played well over our heads and I think some of our players don’t understand what made them successful last year and it caught up with them a little bit. We’ll look at the weekend and see where we stand with everything. If we’re not in position to have a miraculous recovery, 6 points that would position us possible for the playoffs, maybe we’ll make a couple changes the last couple games.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.