The New England Revolution extended their unbeaten record at home to 10 games dating back to last season in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with New York City FC. That said, there was a collective sense, both from New England head coach Brad Friedel and his players, that the Revs should have claimed the full three points.
Here are three things we learned from Saturday’s draw with NYCFC:
1. Fagundez-Penilla combo is legit.
Fagundez has long been a crafty, dynamic player with a nose for the goal, but he’s always flourished next to a player that compliments his skillset. In the past, that player was Juan Agudelo. In 2018, that player appears to be Penilla.
Through the first three games of the season, Penilla has shown himself to be a speedy, elegant, and unselfish playmaker. He helped Scott Caldwell do the dirty work on Fagundez’s goal against New York by converging on Yangel Herrera to steal possession. From there, the ball fell to Wilfried Zahibo, who then stabbed it forward for Fagundez to have a go and score.
Penilla could have had at least one goal on Saturday against New York (he hit the post) but at least he’s helping his teammates generate goals. That’s the first job of a playmaker, anyway.
2. Put it away in the first half!!!
Revolution coach Brad Friedel, Fagundez, and a number of Revolution players lamented their missed chances after the game.
Nearly all of those squandered opportunities came in the first half.
Yes, Penilla hit the post and Fagundez missed a sitter. But Kelyn Rowe also missed a sitter, and Penilla had a chance on a breakaway to put the Revolution up inside the first two minutes.
Certainly, there’s an element of luck involved (hitting vs. not hitting the post) and you have to credit New York for making great last-second defensive plays. But the Revolution were far and away the better team in the first half, at least as far as chances go, and at some point every team has to make its own luck.
New York was able to regroup at halftime and catch the Revolution napping as they equalized. Doing that would have been tougher if the deficit was greater than one goal.
Friedel, taking a glass half full point of view, put it well after the game:
“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. 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.”
3. Wasteful offense, shaky defense is still a Revs hallmark
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Revolution didn’t profit from all their chances, blew a lead (or two), and then came away with less than three points?
Matches such as Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home against New York City FC were all too common in 2017, when the Revolution didn’t make the playoffs.
Teams with big aspirations like winning an MLS Cup or even making the playoffs don’t take nights off – especially at home.
Saturday’s contest was a gift; New York was missing David Villa (calf) and Alexander Ring (knee) and had two key contributors in Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita on international duty. Given those shortcomings and getting to play at Gillette Stadium – arguably the most despised venue to visit in Major League Soccer – Saturday’s final result for the Revs meant two points lost, not one point gained.
Mental lapses doomed the Revolution on both sides of the ball against NYCFC and it cost them points. History with this club shows that lost points add up over time.