Photo by ISIphotos.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
FOXBORO, Mass. — The Philadelphia Union looked lethargic and disorganized for the first 81 minutes of Saturday's match against the New England Revolution, but it was the final nine minutes (and stoppage time) that mattered, as the Union left Gillette Stadium with all three points.
Goals from Jack McInerney in the 82nd minute and Justin Mapp in the second minute of stoppage time erased New England's lead and helped give Philadelphia a 2-1 victory on Saturday night. The goals overturned a 31st minute goal from Ilija Stolica for the Revs, who were reduced to 10 men shortly before halftime after Cory Gibbs was sent off.
The win improved the Union’s record to 5-11-5 (20 points) but perhaps more importantly in the MLS big picture, the loss (The Revs third straight) put a major dent in New England's fading playoff chances.
The Union struggled to find a rhythm all game – its first shot on goal didn’t come until the 62nd minute – but the club got a moment of brilliance from second-half substitutes Justin Mapp and Jack McInerney in the 82nd minute. Mapp looped a perfectly-weighted ball to McInerney behind the Revolution defense, and the 18-year old leveled the score with hard shot past backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who was starting in place of the injured Matt Reis.
Mapp struck again in the second minute of stoppage time. The Revs sent bodies forward for a corner kick, and the Union clearance found the feet of Danny Mwanga, who led a two-on-two break with Sebastien Le Toux. After his initial shot was blocked, Le Toux laid off to the late-arriving Mapp, who hammered home a shot to the far post.
Despite playing with only 10 men, the Revolution controlled most of the game. The sending off came in the 41st minute, when Gibbs arrived late with a hard challenge on Argentine midfielder Eduardo Coudet. Referee Hilario Grajeda didn’t hesitate before showing red, but the Revolution bench seemed less-than-convinced.
“You can’t tell me that [Stefani] Miglioranzi deserves a yellow for the challenge on [Sainey] Nyassi, and then tell me that Cory gets a red,” said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after the match. “To me that’s wrong. Just wrong. The last three games have been huge games for us in the context of our season, and in two of those three games, the outcome has been affected by the officials.”
Five minutes before the Gibbs red card, Nyassi had two golden opportunities to extend the Revs’ lead. First, he collected an errant Union clearance 25 yards from goal and ripped a shot off the left post. The rebound fell to Chris Tierney, who found Nyassi at the back post, but the Gambian’s header sailed just over the bar.
Ilija Stolica had opened the scoring for New England in the 31st minute when a Marko Perovic corner kick fell to Shalrie Joseph in the box. Joseph fed Stolica, who turned and shot, beating Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
Each team will play its next match Wednesday against Mexican opposition, as the Union takes on Chivas de Guadalajara in a friendly, and the Revolution play host to Monarcas Morelia in the SuperLiga 2010 Final. Both teams return to league play on September 4, when the Union travel to Kansas City and the Revolution host Seattle.
Here are highlights from last night's match: