Foxborough, MA (SportsNetwork.com) – The New England Revolution will aim to
reach the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday when the club hosts the Columbus
Crew at Gillette Stadium in leg two of their Eastern Conference semifinal tie.
New England has been one of the hottest teams in MLS coming down the stretch
of the regular season as Jay Heaps’ club closed the regular season on a five-
match unbeaten streak and they carried it over to the postseason by thrashing
Columbus, 4-2, in the first leg of the series at Crew Stadium.
The Revs grabbed the opening salvo in the 34th minute when Charlie Davies got
on the end of Kelyn Rowe’s free kick to nod a shot past Columbus goalkeeper
Steve Clark with a diving header.
The Revs added to the lead less than six minutes into the second half when
Chris Tierney curled a superb free kick over the wall and into the upper
corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Columbus pulled one back in the 64th minute when an unmarked Justin Meram
pounced on a loose ball in the box and fired a right-footed shot past Revs
goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
New England, though, would seize control of the tie by adding two goals in the
span of eight minutes.
Lee Nguyen continued his sensational season by taking a pass from Jermaine
Jones in the 70th minute and going the distance before slotting a shot past
Davies tacked on a fourth shortly after by drifting inside from the left flank
and curling a shot off the far post and into the back of the net.
Columbus managed to get another in stoppage time after a Jose Goncalves hand
ball in the box resulted in a Federico Higuain penalty.
But New England is in a superb position heading into Sunday’s second leg as
they managed four away goals.
“It is always difficult to play on the road, and I thought we did a nice job
tonight. It was a battle all the way through, a lot of goals and a lot of
chances,” said Heaps. “I thought we probably could have had more. In the end,
you want to get goals and get points on the road so that was good for us.”
Despite having a comfortable margin ahead of Sunday, Heaps insisted his club
would not play any differently.
“Theres no team I know of that wants to go on the field and sit back for the
first 15 or 20 minutes,” said Heaps. “Both teams are going to be going
forward, both teams are going to be pushing.”
“I think the first half is going to determine a lot,” said Rowe. “I think it’s
going to be the same kind of game (as the first leg) it’s going to be a hard-
fought game, it’s going to be a fast game, and I don’t think we’re going to
play any different. I don’t think we should.”
Despite facing a huge uphill battle to overturn the deficit, Crew head coach
Gregg Berhalter doesn’t anticipate major changes to his style of play.
“You have different tactics [for] while you’re in the game and the result
changes,” he said. “But going into the game from the start and having to score
three goals makes it challenging.”
A result for New England would send the Revs to their first East finals since
2007, when the club reached the MLS Cup final, but lost to the Houston Dynamo.