FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution lost 3-0 to the Montreal Impact at Gillette Stadium Wednesday night. It’s New England’s sixth loss of the season overall, and its fourth at home.
Here are three takeaways from New England’s performance:
Revolution outworked by a team that didn’t even want to be there
The Montreal Impact showed up in Foxborough less than four hours after landing in Boston, following two days of travel woes and without Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider, the team’s biggest attacking threats. Montreal even appealed to MLS to postpone Wednesday night’s game, a request denied.
Regardless, Montreal thoroughly embarrassed the Revolution by taking the full three points off three late goals. The Revolution failed to produce a single shot on target, despite controlling more than 56 percent of possession, and were largely stuck absorbing fouls and passing sideways or hopelessly down the field.
Montreal would have been OK with not playing, but still found a way to win after a travel nightmare and bringing essentially its B-team to what has been, up until this season, a tough away venue.
After the game in the Revolution locker room, which had the atmosphere of a morgue, Juan Agudelo half-joked the Impact should use a similar itinerary for future games.
“Maybe they’ll fly the day of the game next game, I don’t know,” he said.
Agudelo was left scratching his head as to why he and his teammates’ struggles to record shots on target continued into Wednesday night. An easy answer is that the Impact, who are comfortable in their style of play, were faster with getting into their defensive shape than New England was at generating any sort of attack.
New England’s players largely looked like strangers Wednesday, as they have many times this season. Montreal exacerbated this reality by running up the score late in the game.
Larger sample size continues to reflect badly on Brad Friedel
Revolution head coach Brad Friedel deserved a break in 2018, his first year at the helm, for not making the postseason because he didn’t have total control over the roster he inherited.
But Friedel is now on the hot seat in Year 2, particularly when he started the season by saying the current squad is “far more his team” in 2019.
Through nine games this season, the Revolution are 2-6-1 and off to their worst start in franchise history. They have scored just three times in six games at Gillette Stadium, four of which were shutout losses, which is remarkable considering the venue garnered the nickname “Fortress Foxborough” under Friedel’s predecessor, Jay Heaps, who got the Revolution to almost master the art of never losing at home.
Friedel’s all-time record as coach is 12-20-12. New England has won just five competitive matches since June 30, 2018.
As an aside, Montreal’s club staff and players were in celebratory moods before cameras started rolling for postgame interviews Wednesday night. Some of them remarked how their club, like New England, was in hole for much of last season before turning things around under head coach Remi Garde. The Portland Timbers followed a similar playbook all the way to the MLS Cup final last season. And the Revolution, who have a tendency of starting slow out of the gate, shouldn’t throw their arms up on the season yet, either.
That said, optimism and silver linings aren’t reasons to be naïve. The Revs need to address their attacking woes, while their supposed incoming transfer can’t come soon enough.
Cody Cropper’s costly mistake probably deserves a mulligan
After a year on the periphery, Cody Cropper is back as the Revolution’s starting goalkeeper and has mostly rewarded Friedel’s newfound trust.
Alas, Cropper took the blame for causing the error that led to Montreal’s first goal Wednesday when he flapped at a routine shot from a free kick that was fired straight at him. He bobbled the ball, which allowed Shamit Shome to crash into the six-yard box and finish into an empty net.
Anthony Jackson-Hamel added Montreal’s second and third goals in the final nine minutes, but the Revolution were pressing and had a mostly nonexistent back line, so it would be harsh to hold Cropper even partially accountable for those.
Up until his major gaffe, Cropper made six saves. His first real call to action involved a double-save, which featured a point-blank stop on Montreal’s Michael Azira. He also parried a well-hit free kick from Max Urruti just before halftime.
In short, Cropper’s error probably ensured the Revs would lose, but his overall performance was much more than that single play.