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New England Revolution draw NYCFC 2-2, high press takes toll

Mar 24, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez (14) shoots while defended by New York City FC midfielder Ebenezer Ofori (12) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, MA – The New England Revolution showed how effective they can be at the high press Saturday afternoon against New York City FC – and also why the high press has its limits.

Despite out-shooting NYCFC by a more than two-to-one ratio, New England didn’t capitalize on all its scoring chances, particularly in the first half, and settled for a 2-2 draw in front of an announced crowd of 12,376 at Gillette Stadium.

Two Revolution leads – furnished by goals from Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo — didn’t hold up as Ismael Tajouri netted a pair of goals to help New York escape with a positive result.

“The only disappointment is that we were only one to the good when we should have been up by three or four in the first half,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said after the game. “Their goalkeeper made some good saves, we hit the post, and we missed a couple of chances. But we have a lot of positives to take from this performance.”

LISTEN: Brad Friedel press conference audio

 

New England midfielder Diego Fagúndez opened the scoring in the 11th minute with his second goal of the young campaign.

He turned and fired from 20 yards, sniping a shot in off the left post after controlling a one-timed pass by Wilfried Zahibo. The sequence started with Scott Caldwell and Cristian Penilla, who converged on New York’s Yangel Herrera in midfield to strip the ball.

NYCFC (3-1-0, 10 points) entered the weekend with the best record in the Eastern Conference, but were without main striker David Villa (calf) and midfielder Alex Ring (knee), plus defender Ronald Matarrita and midfielder Rodney Wallace, who were both on international duty with the Costa Rica national team.

New England maintained heavy pressure and out-hustled NYCFC, which controlled possession for most of the game. In the 36th minute, Fagúndez lofted a sitter from the heart of the box over the crossbar. Three minutes later, Penilla clanged a shot off the left post.

Failing to at least double the lead came back to haunt the Revolution in the second half when the high press started to demand more physically, allowing NYCFC to find some success with its passing.

New York equalized in the 51st minute when Ismael Tajouri tapped a feed from Saad Abdul-Salaam past New England goalkeeper Matt Turner to smoothly finish a counter-attack orchestrated by Jesus Medina.

Friedel moved to his bench and tabbed forward Juan Agudelo for Kelyn Rowe at the hour-mark, a tactical move that paid a quick dividend.

Three minutes after entering, Agudelo rose to meet Penilla’s cross from the left flank, his header sinking into the lower right corner of the net to restore New England’s advantage.

 

The game opened up as NYCFC fought for a second goal. In the 75th minute, Tajouri managed to steal the headlines from Agudelo when he beat New England defender Andrew Farrell to a feed from Herrera, his shot from just behind the penalty spot bulging the back of the net.

“It’s a tough one to take, up 2-1, with – I don’t know – 15 minutes left,” Fagúndez said. “We have to be smarter. I think in the first half we should have finished them earlier, then nothing would have happened in the second half.

“We put in work and got chances, we just have to be better on them and making sure we finish. Myself, it’s frustrating when you miss a couple inside the 18. You have to do better on that.”

New England (1-1-1, 4 points) extended its home unbeaten run to 10 games (9-0-1, dating back to last year). The Revolution will play the Houston Dynamo next on the road March 31.

“Whenever you get the opportunities, you have to put them away,” Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell said. “That’s something we should be able to do for 90 minutes. We did for a lot of the game, but a few moments we weren’t good enough.

“We have to watch, see what we did right, see what we did wrong, see what the coaches feel we need to do this week in Houston and then work in practice so we can be ready to go.”

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