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Monday, November 24, 2014

If You Haven't Already, It Is Officially Time To Jump On the Revolution Bandwagon

In case you haven't been paying attention (and you are excused if you haven't), it turns out that the Patriots aren't the only championship contender residing in Gillette Stadium this season. Haha no I'm not talking about UMass football, the Revolution picked up a huge road win today 2-1 at Red Bull Arena in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final vs. Red Bulls. They will meet again at Gillette on Saturday (3, NBCSN) where New England will try to get back to the MLS Cup (which they have never won in club history).

It is all about away goals so a 1-1 tie which is how it looked to finish would have been perfectly acceptable for the Revs. They have been the best team in MLS since they acquired Jermaine Jones (11-1-1) this summer so it was fitting that their prized pickup came through with a clutch game-winning goal in the 85th minute. Lee Nguyen, who should be the MLS MVP this season, drew Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, before sliding it over to his fellow USMNT midfielder to tap in.

New York definitely threw everything it had into this match, owning possession (60-40%) and taking way more shots (18-8) although only three more (7-4) landed on goal. The problem was that the Red Bulls hyped themselves up too much, as proven by their six yellow cards which is a total I've never heard of for one team in a close game. Star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips picked up one of the aforementioned yellow cards on a lazy challenge in the second half and it was particularly costly since he came in carrying one from the previous match. This means that he is out on Saturday, oops!

New England forward Teal Bunbury opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a curling laser worthy of inclusion on Sportscenter's Top 10 plays. It was from outside the box but Robles still had no chance to stop it. Jones had the assist on it. New York responded 10 minutes later as a scramble in New England's box left Bobby Shuttlesworth (6 saves) and his weird haircut with nothing left to do but retrieve the ball out of the net. The Red Bulls hit the ball off the crossbar before Wright-Phillips followed that with a header which went in.

The long layoff didn't seem to be much of an issue for either side so I doubt that the most important match of their season will suffer from being less than a week away. Expect New York to come out strong since they need at least one goal. By being calm and playing their game, New England should have a great chance to get through the second leg and advance to the MLS Cup the following Sunday. Later this afternoon, LA opened the Western Conference Final with a 1-0 win on their home turf over Seattle.

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