Man of the Match: What a find Lee Nguyen has become at Gillette Stadium. Don’t forget, this is a guy the Vancouver Whitecaps decided they could do without. Nguyen was midfield force Sunday, always available and reliable and even tricky in some spots as the home team kept New England pinned in for long stretches. His third goal for the club, a well-placed 22-yard line drive, became Sunday’s game-winner.
Packaged for take-away:
- Matt Reis, the long, long, longtime man in goal for New England took a seat on the bench in favor of younger Bobby Shuttleworth. Reis has allowed some pretty unsightly goals this year, several while getting stranded in bad positions, something that might befall younger me, but not 37-year-old veterans with mountains of experience.
- Jay Heaps’ choice to sit Reis was even bigger because he was also without DP midfielder Shalrie Joseph; the longtime Revolution heart and soul missed the start due to a knee sprain but did get onto the field in the 72nd.
- Shuttleworth was able to ease into the game because the home team was dominant early. He came to collect a couple of crosses and helped as defenders pushed shooters out to wide positions, but the young ‘keeper (well, young-ish at 25) didn’t have to deal with a shot in the first half. Yes, the Red Bulls didn’t have a single shot.
- At the other end, with just a little more sharpness around goal Blake Brettschneider could have hat tricked by halftime. The best of a trio of wonderful chances was a glancing 41st minute header that clanged off the crossbar’s underside.
- The Revs had been banging on the visitor’s door for more than 20 minutes when Nguyen targeted the near post from 22 yards – and nailed it.
- There were seven Red Bulls within about 12-14 yards of Nguyen when the Revs’ attacker aimed that shot. Eight if you include left back Roy Miller, who was just a little further away. So, for none of them – Not a one! – to get a little closer to the Revolution midfielder as the play slowly developed speaks to poor communication and a whole bunch of ball watching on New York’s part.
- The Red Bulls midfield struggled mightily to deal with Benny Feilhaber and Nguyen, who were playing the top midfield spots in New England’s 4-3-3, ahead of screener Clyde Simms.
- Saer Sene played out wide, on the left to start and on the right later, and did pretty well.
- That New York was being overwhelmed isn’t totally surprising. The injury list included six starters: Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Jan Gunnar Solli, Teemu Tainio, Heath Pearce and Markus Holgersson.
- If Brettschneider had any designs on keeping his spot ahead of just-signed Honduran forward Jerry Bengtson (a Revs DP) missing all those chances (and another one not long after intermission) was a bad way to go about it. Bengtson debuted in the 60th minute and even scored just before the end, although he was just cleaning up the good work of Sene.
- The Red Bulls’ 4-1-4-1 frequently left striker Kenny Cooper on his own. He was able to stir up occasional trouble, as with the 57th minute curler that beat Shuttleworth but clanged the right goal post. The plan was probably to have Joel Lindpere or Mehdi Ballouchy in closer contact to Cooper. But they had to work back consistently to help deal with the well-connected Revs’ midfield, so they just couldn’t get forward often enough in assistance to the stranded striker.
- Lindpere looks like an Oregon lumberjack with his new, full beard and shaved head.