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Gap remains between New England Revolution, perennial playoff teams

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

Two substitutes came off the bench after the hour mark and made immediate impacts in their respective Major League Soccer games this past weekend.

Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo scored three minutes after taking the field for Kelyn Rowe against New York City FC.

About eight hours later in the Denver suburbs, Sporting Kansas City’s Diego Rubio also found the back of the net during stoppage time within three minutes of coming on against the Colorado Rapids.

The difference between the two stories is perspective.

New England went up 2-1 on Agudelo’s goal but caved and allowed NYCFC to come back and tie the game, turning what could have been the Revolution’s second consecutive victory into two dropped home points.

That NYCFC — without star striker David Villa (calf) and other key contributors — came back to the tie the game was disappointing from New England’s perspective.

However, Kansas City was down 2-0 on the road in windy conditions and high elevation. Rubio came on and procured a last-gasp equalizer to salvage one point, capping a spectacular comeback.

“You can’t put yourself in that position on a regular basis,” Sporting head coach Peter Vermes said. “But you can’t deny the fact that we just scored two goals on the road and got a point. It’s tremendous. That’s a big point for us to steal one at their place.”

New England displayed weakness instead of strength after Agudelo nodded in the go-ahead goal off a Cristian Penilla cross. Disappointing, but not unsurprising. The Revolution missed the playoffs the last two seasons due, in large part, to their paltry defending as well as their tendency to squander scoring chances.

Saturday’s game at Gillette Stadium was a microcosm of this reality. New England out-shot New York 17-7 and had two separate leads but failed to capitalize on what it created.

Kansas City has made the playoffs in every season since 2010, winning an MLS Cup in 2013. Rubio’s goal is evidence of a never-say-die attitude that has helped make his team one of the league’s most consistent clubs.

Consistency, on both sides of the ball, has eluded the Revolution in recent years.

On Saturday, the parallel between Agudelo and Rubio’s performances was impossible to ignore. So too is the gap between their respective teams.

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