Revolution’s rally falls short in 3-2 loss to Toronto FC

The New England Revolution were caught napping in the first half by the worst team in MLS on their previously unblemished pitch.

The Revolution had their record five-game home winning streak terminated in degrading fashion with a 3-2 loss to Toronto FC on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium. The start was delayed 79 minutes due to severe weather conditions.

The Revolution fell to 7-3-3 going into the MLS-mandated 10-day hiatus. They will resume play on July 17 at Atlanta United FC. Toronto FC, in Javier Perez’ debut as interim head coach, snapped a six-game losing streak and improved to 2-8-2.

“The first 30 minutes were inexcusable,” said Revolution head coach Bruce Arena. “Their attitude was good but certainly disappointed with their play.”

Arena made significant changes to the starting 11 with keeper Matt Turner (USA) and forward Tajon Buchanan (Canada) on sabbatical at the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. He inserted Brad Knighton in goal and Teal Bunbury on the left flank. Arena put Adam Buksa at striker and moved Gustavo Bou, who had scored in a career-best four straight games, to the midfield.

Knighton made his first start since March 7, 2020, and the lack of game experience resulted in a dreadful mistake and a 1-0 deficit in the ninth minute. He misjudged a long loft from midfield as Toronto attacker Yeferson Soteldo and Revs back Brandon Bye converged on the box. Knighton failed to secure the ball and Soteldo kicked it into the empty net for his second of the season.

“He (Knighton) was mediocre to be honest with you, nothing special,” said Arena. “He’s an experienced goalkeeper and he shouldn’t have been conceding that first goal.”

Toronto went up 2-0 in the 15th minute when midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo made a deep pass to Kemar Lawrence on the left flank. Lawrence converged unchallenged and fired the ball under the crossbar near side.

They made it 3-0 in the 24th minute when Soteldo made a lateral feed to Tsubasa Endoh near the right corner of the box. The midfielder from Tokyo swiveled and fired the ball diagonally across the penalty area and inside the far post.

The Revs’ run of misfortune continued unabated in the final 10 minutes of the half. Buksa’s header in the 35th minute deflected high off the crossbar. Bou fired a rocket from inside the penalty area in the 36th minute that bounced off the right post. Bye had an uncontested shot in the danger area in the 42nd minute that sailed high over the bar.

The Revolution got on the board on a masterful set piece by Carles Gil in the 56th minute. Gil called his own number on a free kick from just outside the box and he beat TFC keeper Alex Bono for his second of the season.

“You saw the way we came out in the second half and they tried to get back in the game,” said Arena. “They are obviously not happy but we knew if we got that first goal before the 50-minute mark we had a chance to get a point out of the game and maybe three points.”

The Revolution cut the lead to 3-2 on a slick collaboration in the 78th minute. Tommy McNamara made a deep probe on the left side and dropped the ball to Emmanuel Boateng, who made his MLS debut as a substitute. Boateng lofted one into the danger area that Buksa headed by Bono for his fifth of the year. Bono made a huge save on Buksa in the 95th minute to preserve the win.

“That was the first time he played for us this year and he did a good job,” Arena said of Boateng. “We needed a left-footed kicker and he’s been getting better in training.

“We knew this week we were going to utilize him and he did a good job.”

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