Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — For the third straight match, the New England Revolution scored first. And for the third straight match, the Revolution squandered its lead.
Recently signed designated player Milton Caraglio netted his first two MLS goals in the first half, and Dane Richards scored a brace of his own in the second as the Revs and the New York Red Bulls split the points in a 2-2 draw Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Revolution players and head coach Steve Nicol alike were at a loss to explain the club's inability to hold onto a lead.
"It's deja vu," Nicol said. "We've lost to many points that we should have had in the bag."
Asked what the team could do to improve its performance, Revs captain Shalrie Joseph echoed his coach's sentiment.
"If I knew the answer to that, I think we'd probably be the happiest bunch of guys ever right now," Joseph said. "It's more than three games, honestly, if you think about it, we've been fortunate enough that we've been able to take leads in games and we just can't hold onto the lead."
The result continues a string of ineptitude for both sides. The Revolution (4-11-11, 23 points) has won just once in its last 16 matches, while the Red Bulls (6-6-14, 32 points) have won just twice in their last 18. Still, the visitors have to feel better about the result than their hosts, said Red Bulls' head coach Hans Backe after the match.
"You must be happy with a tie when you're two down and playing away," Backe said.
Richards netted the equalizer in the 87th minute, tapping home a driven cross from Joel Lindpere. Richards had previously cut the lead in half with a 53rd-minute goal off of a long pass from Tim Ream. The Jamaican midfielder ran onto Ream's long ball behind the Revolution defense and had time to settle in the box before calmly finding the back of the net.
Both sides had a player sent off for a second yellow card in the second half. Kenny Mansally saw red in the 55th minute for the Revs, and Teemu Tanio was off in the 69th.
The Revolution were fortunate to have a penalty waved off just before halftime. Dax McCarty got behind the Revs' defense in the 45th minute and was one-on-one with Revs back-up keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who started in place of the suspended Matt Reis. Shuttleworth cleaned out the midfielder and looked about to be sent off for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.
Referee Juan Guzman initially pointed to the penalty spot, but after conferring with an assistant referee, he changed his mind and booked McCarty for simulation. Replays seemed to show that Shuttleworth had indeed made contact with the midfielder's knee.
The two coaches differed predictably in their assessment of Guzman's call.
"I think he did get the non-penalty call in the first half right," said Nicol. "Somebody pressed a button and [McCarty's] legs disappeared. That was a great call."
"[It's] a 100 percent penalty and probably a red card," Backe said.
Caraglio's brace was the first for a Revolution player since Zak Boggs did it on May 8, 2010 against the Columbus Crew, a 47-game span.
Caraglio opened the scoring in the 15th minute with an impressive individual effort. After pushing his way through three Red Bulls defenders and forcing a good save from Coundoul,the Revolution designated player collected his own rebound, shifted to his favored left foot and drove home a shot at the near post.
The designated player got his second in the 37th by beating Rafa Marquez to head home a Mansally corner.
Caraglio nearly opened his MLS account ten minutes earlier than he actually did. The Argentine did well to head down a high cross from Mansally at the back post, but his shot had too much force behind it and bounced over the goal.
Both teams will play their next match on Sunday, the Red Bulls return to a sold-out Red Bull Arena to host the Los Angeles Galaxy, while the Revolution hit the road to take on the Philadelphia Union.