It seems like the shift at head coach may have ended up paying off much more than we expected, after last night’s match. The New England Revolution welcomed the surging San Jose Earthquakes to Foxboro, as the Revs looked to continue their undefeated run against San Jose, dating back to 2013. An above-average crowd showed up to support the home side, and what a perfect night for it, as the supporter’s groups came together to begin their #BurnsOut campaign, calling for change in the upper management. Members of The Fort unfurled a sign shortly after kick off that read, “N.E. Deserves Better”, a clear message to Mike Burns, Brian Bilello, and the Krafts.
The atmosphere inside Gillette Stadium was palpable as the match began, with chants of, “Fire Mike Burns!”, and “Burns Out!” echoing throughout the 20,610 in attendance. The Revs got hot early, and forced their attacking presence straight down the throats of the Earthquakes backline, forcing goalkeeper Daniel Vega into a few early saves, and giving the Revs heaps of time to generate offense under interim head coach Mike Lapper’s first try at managing an MLS side. His influence eventually paid off, as outside back Edgar Castillo sent in a picture-perfect ball that Juan Agudelo met with his outstretched foot at the back post, to put his side up 1-0 only 17 minutes into the contest.
San Jose seemed to have trouble finding an answer, when defender Harold Cummings hauled down New England’s Teal Bunbury in the 23rd minute, in the box nonetheless, forcing referee Guido Gonzales Jr. to issue a yellow card to Cummings, and call a penalty on the field. The play went VAR, and after roughly 4 minutes of deliberation, Gonzales stuck with his gut, and awarded New England a golden chance to go up 2-0, midway through the first half. Cristian Penilla stepped up to take the penalty, and was able to catch Daniel Vega going the opposite way, putting the Revs up 2-0 after only 28 minutes of play, and registering a goal and an assist in the same contest. With the fans fired up, and players buying into Lapper’s system early on, the second half looked to be much of the same for the boys in blue.
Matt Turner stood tall in his second start of the season, rebounding nicely after a rough 5-0 loss to Chicago on Wednesday, and making a safe diving stop in the 66th minute to deny San Jose a chance at cutting the lead in half. Tajon Buchanan came on for Diego Fagundez and made an instant impact, showing off some impressive footwork before sliding a pass towards Carles Gil in the box, who calmly tucked home the Revs’ third goal of the night, pushing the lead to 3. The 85th minute brought about a bit of chaos, when a mass of bodies convened around Turner’s 6-yard box, clouding the keeper’s vision. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski was able to find the ball on the doorstep, but his backheel chance was denied by Matt Turner’s quick reflexes. Two minutes later, San Jose managed to break through when Valeri Qazaishvili sprinted through the Revolution defense and powered home a strike to bring the Revs’ lead to only 2.
After 95 minutes of what almost looked like a completely different squad wearing the Revolution crest, Mike Lapper began his tenure as head coach by registering a 3-1 victory over an upstart Western Conference opponent. While it is only one game, his college coaching pedigree at West Virginia served as an excellent basis for a youthful roster like the Revs. Players had claimed that former coach Brad Friedel had lost the locker room, and it seems right off the bat that Lapper has been able to regain that control, while also encouraging his players to play to their potentials, and beyond. A few things are certainly clear after the match pertaining to Lapper, as he named Matt Turner his starter for the foreseeable future, and believes that Cristian Penilla is one of the top players in MLS when he’s motivated and hungry, and will continue to be a massive part of the squad heading forward.
The Revs play again in their “Final Whistle on Hate” charity match against Chelsea FC on Wednesday, May 15th, at Gillette Stadium. The next league game for the Revs is in Montreal against the Impact on Saturday, May 18th.
Photo: (Greg M. Cooper - USA Today)