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Revolution 1, FC Cincinnati 1

Revolution lose Dylan Borrero to serious knee injury, but battle fellow East-leader FC Cincinnati to draw

In a game against CF Montreal in early April, Sunusi Ibrahim (left) and New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell are deadlocked when they try to head the ball.Mark Stockwell/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution survived a rough and tumble challenge from FC Cincinnati, playing to a 1-1 tie Saturday and maintaining their first-place standing over the visitors on goal difference in the Eastern Conference.

The Revolution and Cincinnati (both 6-1-3, 21 points) set a wide-open pace from the start before a crowd of 30,080 at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution showed resilience during a difficult first half that included a long-term left leg injury to winger Dylan Borrero, a saved FC Cincinnati penalty kick, three cautions, and 10 minutes of injury time.

Minutes after Borrero was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Esmir Bajraktarevic, Cincinnati was awarded a penalty kick, though the Revolution’s Justin Rennicks appeared to have committed his 27th-minute handling violation outside the area. Djordje Petrovic saved Luciano Acosta’s penalty attempt, but Cincinnati stayed on the offensive and Yair Mosquera opened the scoring, heading in a corner kick in the 31st.

The Revolution recovered to equalize as Emmanuel Boateng finished a Brandon Bye cross three minutes into first-half added time. Boateng had a chance to break the deadlock just before the half, but had two point-blank attempts blocked.


Both teams went to all-out attacking in the second half, the Revolution adding Gustavo Bou and Bobby Wood in the 69th minute. Cincinnati threatened as Acosta went down in a clash with Andrew Farrell in the 65th, referee Alex Chilowicz awarding a Revolution goal kick, and affirming his decision following a VAR review three minutes later. A Bou shot was saved off the left post (88th) and Cincinnati’s Nick Hagglund headed just wide in second-half stoppage time.

Observations from Saturday’s game:

▪ Defining moment: Mosquera’s tackle on Borrero in the 15th minute highlighted the physicality of the contest and appeared to be a textbook cleats-up challenge, which often means a caution or red card. Chilowicz instead allowed play to continue before the action stopped for six minutes as Borrero received treatment — he was later fitted for a leg support and crutches. After the match, Borrero and Mosquera, both 21-year-old Colombians, conversed outside the Revolution locker room. Revolution coach Bruce Arena said Borrero had “a serious knee injury.”


▪ Difference-maker: Boateng threatened on the left wing from the opening minutes and made a strong back-post run to score off Bye’s cross in what was a two-on-six situation.

▪ Tactical: With Bou and Wood recovering from injury and Jozy Altidore and Giacomo Vrioni out, the Revolution went with Justin Rennicks in a single-striker setup. Rennicks kept the attention of the Cincinnati back line with his runs, Matt Miazga earning a 12th-minute caution, and the Revolution nearly broke through once Bou and Wood entered. Cincinnati went with a five-man back line, partly to counter the Revolution’s wing threats, but still struggled to limit Boateng.

▪ Statistical analysis: The Revolution were credited with 55 percent possession, but got off only three more shots (13-10) than FC Cincinnati.

Justin Rennicks was the lone striker standing for the injury depleted Revolution.Mark Stockwell/Associated Press

▪ Road ahead: The Revolution will take an eight-game all-competitions unbeaten streak into next Saturday’s visit to Toronto FC, the first of three successive away games (plus a May 9 home date against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the US Open Cup). Meanwhile, Cincinnati plays its next three games at home.

▪ What they said: “Very physical game. I think the first 10 minutes of the game they dominated us physically,” Arena said. “We didn’t adjust to it, took us a little time, think it took the referee and little time to sort that stuff. Second half we had a little bit of an edge, had a couple good chances.”


On coaching against his son, Kenny, a Cincinnati assistant, Arena added, “The families are fine. My wife [Phyllis] and grandson were all hoping that it would be a draw. Everyone goes home happy, I guess, except the coaches.”

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at frankdellapa@gmail.com.