Underdog New England Revolution upset the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Finals series at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ on Sunday for 25,000 fans. This year, away goals count more in the aggregate goal series, so the Red Bulls have a tough hurdle to overcome in the second leg when they visit Gillette on Saturday, November 9 in the final battle for the Eastern Conference Championship.
Jermaine Jones scored the game-winning goal late in the 85th minute in the loosely officiated match that finished with 10 yellow cards. MLS leading goal scorer Bradley Wright Phillips picked up his second yellow of the playoffs and will be suspended for the return leg and Roy Miller will serve the second of his two-game suspension, making the road to victory even tougher for New York.
“I think Jermaine [Jones] has really helped us get over the top a little bit in terms of how we want to play and what we want to do,” said head coach Jay Heaps.
In their last 15 games, since an August 2 loss to the Red Bulls, the Revolution are 12-1-2 in all competitions. The Revs have scored two or more goals in all three of their postseason games this year. New England advanced to the Conference Finals by beating the Columbus Crew 4-2 in the first leg of the Semi Finals.
Teal Bunbury started the scoring for New England in the 17th minute. MLS MVP candidate Lee Nguyen created the sequence with Jones, who teed-up Bunbury, who delivered a carefully measured shot through traffic and past keeper Luis Robles to put the visitors ahead 1-0. It was Bunbury’s second goal in consecutive games and he also tallied the assist on the game winning goal, showing up better in a wide position than on top.
“He’s really learned how to play that position,” said Charlie Davies. “I think this whole season was kind of an adjustment period for him. . . . Positionally now he understands where he needs to be to be effective for the team both offensively and defensively and today that stepover and the finish with the left was phenomenal.”
But the Red Bulls, lead by Thierry Henry and Peguy Luyindula, responded well to that pressure and put New England on their heels, forcing goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to earn his paycheck. Ten minutes later, MLS leading goalscorer Wright-Phillips scored the equalizer by heading in a loose ball that rebounded first, from Shuttleworth’s save and second, off the crossbar.
Jones showed why he’s a designated player by leading the Revs to their first-ever win at Red Bull Arena by scoring the deciding late goal and the assist – his second playoff assist – on Bunbury’s early strike. Jones now has three goals in all competitions with all three being game-winners. Remarkably, the Revolution are 8-0-0 when Jones has a goal or an assist.
Nguyen has a goal or an assist in eight straight games in all competitions, with New England going 7-0-1 in that time and he now has three postseason assists for the Revs.
This was Shuttleworth’s second straight game with six saves and he now has 16 in three playoff matches.
New England will host the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship on Saturday, November 29 at Gillette Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by NBC Sports Network while 98.5 The Sports Hub (English) and WMVX 1570 AM (Portuguese) will have the call on the radio. Kickoff for that game is set for 3 p.m. ET.
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NE – Teal Bunbury 2 (Jermaine Jones 2) 17’
NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips 4 (Unassisted) 27’
NE – Jermaine Jones 1 (Teal Bunbury 2, Lee Nguyen 2) 85’
NE – A.J. Soares (Yellow Card) 23’
NE – Jermaine Jones (Yellow Card) 26’
NY – Thierry Henry (Yellow Card) 37’
NY – Ibrahim Sekagya (Yellow Card) 43’
NY – Richard Eckersley (Yellow Card) 54’
NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips (Yellow Card) 60’
NY – Eric Alexander (Yellow Card) 63’
NE – Scott Caldwell (Yellow Card) 67’
NY – Tim Cahill (Yellow Card) 77’
NE – Lee Nguyen (Yellow Card) 83’
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves ©, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell; Scott Caldwell, Jermaine Jones, Kelyn Rowe (Kevin Alston 62’), Lee Nguyen (Andy Dorman 94+), Teal Bunbury; Charlie Davies (Patrick Mullins 85’)
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Darrius Barnes, Daigo Kobayashi, Diego Fagundez
STATS: Shots 8, Shots on target 4, Saves 6, Corner kicks 2, Offsides 2, Fouls 13, Possession 39.5%, Passes 282 (72.5%)
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Ambroise Oyongo, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jamison Olave, Richard Eckersley; Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Tim Cahill 76’), Lloyd Sam, Peguy Luyindula, Thierry Henry ©; Bradley Wright-Phillips
Substitutes Not Used: Ryan Meara, Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Chris Duvall, Marius Obekop, Ruben Bover
STATS: Shots 18, Shots on target 7, Saves 2, Corner kicks 6, Offsides 2, Fouls 16, Possession 60.5%, Passes 425 (81.2%)
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry (AR1) and Jonathan Johnson (AR2)
Fourth Official: Chris Penso