Saturday, the New England Revolution won the MLS Eastern Conference Championship by leveling the New York Red Bulls 2-2 in the second leg (4-3 on aggregate) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA for a lively crowd of 32,698 in the home and away series. New England previously defeated the Red Bulls 2-1 win in the first leg of the series at Red Bull Arena.
The Revolution now head to their first MLS Cup since 2007 and will face the winner of the Western Conference Championship, either LA Galaxy or Seattle Sounders.
Charlie Davies scored both of the Revolution’s goals in the Conference Championship, coming back from behind twice. These were Davies’ third and fourth of the postseason and he’s now tied with the NYRB’s Bradley Wright-Phillips as goal leader in the 2014 MLS Playoffs. Davies is the only player in Revolution history to score multiple goals in a playoff game, also having scored a brace in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals versus Columbus.
“We were hard on Charlie this week,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We thought in New York, he always plays hard, but didn’t find the right angles, the right gaps and this week we were asking a little bit more of him. Even yesterday, I got on him in training because the cold weather on his body hurts him and he was kind of taking it light and I really wanted to see him get up to where he was tonight.”
The Revolution have scored two or more goals in all four of their postseason games, finishing up the season much stronger than they started. In their last 16 games, New England are 12-1-3 in all competitions.
The Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill started the scoring in the 26th minute with a close-range finish after collecting a chip from Thierry Henry, who may have played his last professional game. Just before the half, Chris Tierney collaborated with MLS MVP candidate Lee Nguyen and then delivered a brilliant cross, which Davies headed in to equalize 1-1. Nguyen now has a goal or an assist in nine straight MLS games, dating back to the start of October.
Peguy Luyindula, who has been outstanding in the playoffs, put the Red Bulls up again 2-1, leveling the series 3-3 on aggregate and sparking visiting fans to go wild. Midfielder Lloyd Sam delivered a cross into the crowded box which deflected off Andrew Farrell before Luyindula attacked the ball and slammed it past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Tierney and Davies teamed up again to scored the series deciding goal. Tierney whipped in a cross to Davies, who headed the ball past Luis Robles to tie the game at 2-2 20 minutes before the final whistle and New York was unable to respond, which gave the Revs the 4-3 series win. Tierney is the first Revolution player to record two assists in a single postseason game since 2003.
“It was such a long season, so many ups-and-downs, but we’ve always stuck together, continued to get better,” said Davies. “For me, personally, it’s unimaginable really. These five years, really just grinding it out. Things would go against me and there’s a lot of tears and pain, but through it all I just continued to fight and stay with it and things have turned out for the best.”
Bobby Shuttleworth finished the game with two saves and now leads the 2014 MLS playoffs with 18 saves.
The Red Bulls were hampered by the absence of MLS leading goal scorer Wright-Phillips and Roy Miller, who were both serving suspensions.
Next up: MLS Cup
MLS Cup 2014 will be played at the home of the Western Conference Champion on Sunday, December 7 at 3 p.m. ET. MLS Cup will be broadcast on ESPN and Unimas.
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NY – Tim Cahill 1 (Thierry Henry 5) 26’
NE – Charlie Davies 3 (Chris Tierney 1, Lee Nguyen 3) 41’
NY – Peguy Luyindula 3 (Unassisted) 52’
NE – Charlie Davies 4 (Chris Tierney 2, Scott Caldwell 2) 71’
NY – Dax McCarty (Yellow Card) 60’
NY – Ambroise Oyongo (Yellow Card) 92+
NY – Lloyd Sam (Yellow Card) 93+
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth; Kevin Alston, Jose Goncalves ©, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell; Chris Tierney, Scott Caldwell, Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury; Charlie Davies (Kelyn Rowe 84’)
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Darrius Barnes, Andy Dorman, Daigo Kobayashi, Diego Fagundez, Patrick Mullins
STATS: Shots 11, Shots on target 4, Saves 2, Corner kicks 3, Offsides 4, Fouls 11, Possession 45.9%, Passes 338 (69.2%)
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Ambroise Oyongo, Ibrahim Sekagya (Connor Lade 86’), Jamison Olave, Richard Eckersley; Peguy Luyindula, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Ruben Bover 91+), Lloyd Sam; Thierry Henry ©, Tim Cahill
Substitutes Not Used: Ryan Meara, Damien Perrinelle, Chris Duvall, Marius Obekop, Saer Sene
STATS: Shots 11, Shots on target 4, Saves 2, Corner kicks 4, Offsides 3, Fouls 15, Possession 54.1%, Passes 405 (70.1%)
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson (AR1) and Ian Anderson (AR2)
Fourth Official: Silviu Petrescu