Special to CSNNE.com
CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney scored the only goal of the game in the 76th minute as the New England Revolution suffered its first loss of the 2013 season, 1-0, on Saturday evening at a frigid and rain-drenched PPL Park.
Lee Nguyen set up a pair of quality chances for the Revolution (1-1-0, 3 pts.) either side of halftime, but Jerry Bengtson had his 35th-minute effort saved by Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath and Juan Toja clipped his shot wide in the 78th minute. The Union (2-1-0, 6 pts.) didn’t register a shot on target until the 74th minute, but made the breakthrough shortly thereafter when McInerney buried his own rebound after his initial header was saved.
It was the Revolution’s third straight visit to PPL Park that was decided by a late McInerney goal as the young forward scored winners in the 90th minute and 73rd minute, respectively, last season. The Revs are now winless (0-5-3) in eight all-time meetings with the Union.
Minor injuries to goalkeeper Matt Reis (L knee irritation) and central midfielder Kalifa Cisse (R groin tightness) forced Revs head coach Jay Heaps to alter the lineup which defeated the Chicago Fire last weekend. Bobby Shuttleworth started in place of Reis, while Homegrown rookie Scott Caldwell made his professional debut in midfield. After providing a spark off the bench last weekend, Kelyn Rowe also broke into the starting lineup.
Scoring chances were limited throughout the first half as both sides adjusted to the harsh conditions. Michael Lahoud – an eighth-minute substitute for the injured Danny Cruz – had Philadelphia’s best chance in the 34th minute but blasted wide when the ball fell kindly to him in the center of the box, while Nguyen sent Bengtson through on goal one minute later only for MacMath to come up with a kick save.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first as scoring chances were few and far between. It wasn’t until the 74th minute that Shuttleworth was forced to make save when he did well to push Lahoud’s deflected shot onto the top of the net.
Perhaps buoyed by the previous chance, Philadelphia made the breakthrough in the 76th minute. McInerney’s initial header from Sebastien Le Toux’s corner kick was palmed away by Shuttleworth, but the Union forward was on hand to bundle his own rebound over the line from close range.
Toja so nearly pulled the Revolution level just two minutes later when Nguyen’s clever pass sprang him into the box, but his chipped effort drifted wide of the far post.
Chad Barrett and Chris Tierney came on as the Revs moved to a 3-5-2 formation in the 79th minute, but their best chance – an 86th-minute Andrew Farrell cross which flew just out of the reach of Nguyen and Tierney – went begging and the Union held on to the narrow victory.
After kicking off the season with back-to-back road games, the Revs will now return to Gillette Stadium for their 2013 home opener. They’ll host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, March 23, with kickoff set for 4 p.m.