Special to CSNNE.com
HARRISON, N.J. – With the 10-men New England Revolution leading 2-1 behind Diego Fagundez’s go-ahead goal in stoppage time, a controversial decision by the referee led to the New York Red Bulls scoring the game-tying goal at the death as the two teams played to a wild 2-2 draw at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
With the game appearing destined to end 1-1, stoppage time included Fagundez’s go-ahead goal with a man down, an injury and subsequent – and game-deciding – referee decision to send a player off for medical attention and a game-tying goal off the game’s final kick.
Already down to 10 men after Andy Dorman, a second-half substitute, was shown red for a midfield tackle on Eric Alexander, Fagundez put the Revolution ahead in the first minute of stoppage time. After Jerry Bengtson interrupted the Red Bulls’ backline and sprung Fagundez in on Robles, the teenager calmly slotted a shot inside the far post to put New England up, 2-1.
As the Red Bulls continued to press for the game-tying goal as stoppage time wound down, Thierry Henry pushed Revs defender Andrew Farrell into Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis in the penalty area. Farrell had to be helped off the field and have his injured face attended to as he suffered multiple abrasions and a swollen orbital area, but he came back on a few seconds later.
With New York drawing a last-minute free kick deep in the attacking zone, both teams were setting up in the box for Jonny Steele’s service. Referee Fotis Bazakos whistled Farrell off the field again for more apparent blood on his face, leaving the Revs facing a set-piece situation with only nine men on the field. With no fresh blood evident and Farrell on the sideline being refused entry back in the game, the Red Bulls capitalized when Tim Cahill headed in the game-tying goal in the 97th minute. Steele’s service was punched out by Reis, but Cahill got on the end of it and headed the ball into the goal over the defense for the equalizer.
The draw was New England’s (11-11-9, 42 pts.) first-ever point at Red Bull Arena, while the league-leading Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53 pts.) became the first team in MLS to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Much like the teams’ first meeting at Red Bull Arena in April when the teams racked up three goals in eight minutes, New York wasted little time establishing a lead tonight. In the 15th minute, the Red Bulls’ Fabian Espindola picked off a pass deep in the Revs’ midfield and worked around a pair of defenders to create space. At the edge of the box, he got enough room and launched a right-footed shot inside the near post past a diving Matt Reis to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead.
After coming out of the halftime break with its 1-0 lead, New York looked to increase its lead through Henry in the 57th minute. After working across the top of the penalty area, he got off a left-footed, bending shot with eyes for the far post, forcing Reis to make a sprawling mid-air save to prevent the two-goal advantage.
The Revolution had its first strong chance of the night through build-up play in the 62nd minute. Fagundez raced down the left wing and cut back inside once he gained space around Jamison Olave in the penalty area. Fagundez kicked the ball back to Nguyen at the top of the area, who then left a short pass to an on-rushing Saer Sene. After a quick touch, Sene’s six-yard shot was stopped cold by Robles and the high rebound kicked off the top of the crossbar.
The Revs saw their fortunes change in the 83rd minute when Bazakos adjudged Olave to have committed a hand-to-ball offense in the area on Sene’s cross, and pointed to the penalty spot. Nguyen stepped up and buried his penalty attempt low and under Robles to draw the Revs even at 1-1 with five-plus minutes to play.
Dorman’s ejection in the 86th minute pushed the Revs to 10 men, and in the 88th minute, New York came close to notching the go-ahead goal. Henry was played into space by Alexander and was left with a one-on-one chance against Reis, but the goalkeeper made a sprawling fingertip save to push the ball around the post.
Fagundez responded with a chance in the 89th minute that again tested Robles. Kelyn Rowe worked deep to the end line, turned and got a pass back into the area to Fagundez, but his right-footed shot was punched out by Robles.
Two minutes later, Fagundez made no mistake when Bengtson intercepted a Red Bulls pass and played Fagundez coming down the right wing. The 18-year-old settled the ball and calmly slotted home under Robles to the far post.
New England thought they had a second call for a penalty in their next venture into the area as Dimitry Imbongo was cleaned out by Robles, but Bazakos shook his head and told New York to play on.