By KEVIN KOCZWARA
The New England Revolution needed just two minutes to score in Friday night’s visit to Toronto FC, but their lead didn’t last all that long and neither did their chance to climb into second place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Andrew Weideman’s goal just before halftime helped cancel out a second-minute score from Diego Fagundez and eventually helped Toronto FC earn a 1-1 draw against a Revs side that failed in a bid to extend its winning streak to three matches.
Diego Fagundez opened the scoring in the second minute for the Revolution. The 18-year-old was picked out by last week’s two-goal scorer Kelyn Rowe, after the midfielder had his shot blocked inside the penalty area. Rowe recovered his rebound and a pass to Fagundez, who was left unmarked near the back post, and the forward took the chance on the first touch and placed his shot in the back of the net.
TFC’s equalizer came in controversial fashion, with what appeared to be a handball call being missed by the referee before Wiedeman pounced on a loose ball to tie the score.
The draw helps New England move a point clear of Houston for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but the Dynamo have two games in hand. The draw also leaves the Revs just three points behind the Chicago Fire, who have two games in hand on the Revs.
The visitors took control of the game from there and pressed TFC, but the Revolution were unable to create any other notable scoring chances as the hosts soaked up the early pressure.
TFC had their first chance to level the score in the 14th minute. Forward Robert Earnshaw found space at the edge of the Revolution penalty area and was able to turn and get off a quick shot with his left foot, but the TFC forward pulled the shot wide.
As the first half wore on, the Revolution lost their grip on the game and the Reds took control of the midfield and reversed the flow of the game. TFC took control and put the Revolution defense under pressure.
It looked like New England was going to get out of the first half with the lead after pushing back Toronto’s attacks, but the Reds capitalized on a scrum in the Revolution penalty area in extra time and leveled the score at one.
Wiedeman found the ball at his feet inside the Revolution penalty area after a New England clearance seemed to bounce off of a TFC player’s arm, but the referee did not blow the whistle for a handball. The ball fell inside the box for TFC to try and put a shot past Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis. After an attempt on goal was blocked by a Revolution player, Wiedeman found himself with a split-second to fire a shot into an empty net, which he did moments before the whistle blew for half-time.
The Revolution were unable to slow TFC’s momentum in the second half, but the Reds didn’t create enough chances despite pressing hard up the field. TFC’s best chance came in the 88th minute when captain Steven Caldwell had a goal called back after he latched onto a Bobby Convey free-kick. The referee called the goal back because, apparently, Caldwell made contact with Revolution defender and captain Jose Goncalves.
The Revolution hosts first place Montreal on Sunday, Sept. 7. TFC will travel to Portland next Saturday for their next game.
Here are the match highlights: