Cristian Penilla snapped the Revolution’s 283-minute goalless streak and delivered the only goal of the evening in the 73rd minute – just two minutes after taking the field for Diego Fagundez.
The decisive play started with Revolution defender Jalil Anibaba winning possession in midfield and then sending the ball forward to Carles Gil, who sprung both Juan Fernando Caicedo and Penilla on a fast break. Penilla struck a low, hard shot that rolled right past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles for his first goal of the season after he received a pass from Caicedo, who came on at the hour mark for Teal Bunbury.
New England (2-5-1, 7 points) held on for a 1-0 victory and its first clean sheet of the season in front of an announced crowd 14,514.
Saturday night’s result extended the Revolution’s all-time record against the Red Bulls to 31-27-15, and 23-6-7 in home games. It also lifts New England out of the Eastern Conference basement and into ninth place, just four points behind the sixth place Montreal Impact, which visits Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night.
“Very important with Montreal coming up, they’re four points ahead of us – I know it’s early in the season – but just to keep in touch with everyone and a clean sheet will breed a lot of confidence,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said. “We’ll try to build off that going into the Montreal game.”
The Revolution were far more in control against New York than they were in last Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to Atlanta United at Gillette Stadium.
Michael Mancienne, who was suspended for the Atlanta game, returned to the starting lineup and slotted next to Anibaba in central defense. Mancienne came up with a crucial block on Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 51st minute after Wright-Phillips rounded Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper and fired on goal.
Cropper finished the night with five saves, including a point-blank stop on Marc Rzatkowski off a Vincent Bezecourt cross in the 39th minute.
“Our goal in this game, believe it or not, was to keep a clean sheet,” said Friedel. “We’ve been leaking too many on quick attacks.”
“It’s massively important for the team’s confidence,” Mancienne added. “We said before the game we wanted to keep the clean sheet. It gives you every opportunity to win a game if you keep a clean sheet.”
Though New York out-shot New England 13-9, the hosts looked slightly more intent on scoring as the game went on.
Carles Gil rolled an effort wide of the right post off a Bunbury-Fagundez passing sequence in the 17th minute, then Edgar Castillo blasted a shot wide of the target from outside the box at the stroke of halftime.
Castillo also went down in the penalty area the 31st minute off a contact by New York’s Michael Murillo, but referee Drew Fischer, who was in close proximity, did not award a penalty kick.
New England continued to press for a goal in the second half. Juan Agudelo started a two-on-two break in the 50th minute and looked set to shoot, but opted to pass instead as Murillo sent a ball intended for Fagundez out of bounds.
On the ensuing corner kick, Bunbury rose to head a cross from Carles Gil down off the turf and into Robles’ grasp. It was the first shot on target by a Revolution center forward through the first seven games of this season.
Fagundez then blasted just over the crossbar in the 57th minute after cutting past Aaron Long on another Agudelo feed.
New England broke through off a play that involved virtually every sector of the field: Anibaba winning back possession in defense and playing to Carles Gil, who picked out Juan Fernando Caicedo advancing toward the New York penalty area.
After the match, both Penilla and Caicedo said they had been studying the game from the bench and were prepared to strike once called upon.
“I could see they were playing a lot of long balls, there were a lot of open spaces,” Juan Fernando Caicedo said through a Spanish-speaking translator. “We knew – [the guys sitting on the bench] – that we could take those opportunities …come in make sure that we were winning the open balls. Luckily we were able to get the ball and score the goal.
“As a professional I’m patient, waiting on the bench,” Penilla said after the game, also through a Spanish-speaking translator. “I will come in when required. Today, I an opportunity was given to me and I scored a goal, we got the 3 points, and I will just keep waiting and hope to get another chance contribute to the team.”