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If you couldn’t tell from the headline of this article, the Revs didn’t have the best Saturday.  New England traveled down to the cozy diamond confines of Yankee Stadium on Saturday and coughed up 4 goals to their “Heineken Rivalry Week” (TM) opponent, NYCFC.  By itself, the result isn’t particularly surprising.  The Pigeons play on one of the smallest fields allowed by FIFA.  What’s more, they play a style that suits the narrow environs of the Yankee’s outfield.  New York enjoys one of the strongest home-field advantages in MLS, even while experiencing something of a slump in recent weeks.  Vegas took notice when setting the betting lines ahead of the match.

The result wasn’t surprising.  The box score, on the other hand…  Officiating took center stage in this match.  NYCFC became the first team in MLS history to earn 3 penalty kicks in a match.  All in the first half, no less.  The third penalty also involved Andrew Farrell seeing Red for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.  This was, oddly, celebrated by the league on their website as though the poor quality of officiating in MLS wasn’t a constant talking point for league fans.  We’ll get into some of the calls later, but I can tell you that I’m not alone in thinking some of them didn’t pass the smell test.

So what can we glean from this mess of a performance?  One played on a slippery, narrow field, against a strong team, all while down to 10 men for the second half?  Per MLS analyst Matt Doyle, not a whole lot.  He advises the Revs to “put [this result] into the bin and not even think about now that it’s done”.  This reminds me of one of my favorite Mitch Hedberg jokes:

“I saw a commercial that said ‘Forget everything you know about slip-covers!’ So I did.  And it was a load off my mind.” –Mitch Hedberg

As much as I would like think of this game as a slipcover, there are still some takeaways worth highlighting.

The Good (Ugly)

The easy pick here is Djordje Petrović.  The Serbian goalkeeper was brought in to replace Matt Turner and he’s been nothing short of spectacular.

In spite of allowing 4 goals, he was undoubtedly the Revolution’s best player on Saturday.  Depending on which source you believe, NYCFC should have scored between 5.6 and 8.03 goals.  A good chunk of those expected goals come from penalty kicks, one of which was saved.  NYC also had multiple breakaways against the 10-man Revs in the second half, and Petrović did better than expected at keeping the ball out of the net.  He won’t make the MLS team of the week.  He allowed 4 goals.  But maybe he should.

Also receiving votes

Gotta give a shout out to Gustavo Bou.  If you’d listened to the commentators during the match, you might not have realized that Castellanos wasn’t the only player to score a brace on Saturday.  Bou stayed hot and scored his 5th and 6th goals in his last 7 games.  With Buksa sold to France’s RC Lens, Gustavo Bou has done a good job of papering over some of the cracks in the Revs offense.

An additional shout out to the assist man on this goal, Sebastian Lletget.  Lletget now has 5 assists on the season. His combined 7 G+A is good for 3rd on the team behind Carles Gil and the recently departed Adam Buksa.

The Bad (Ugly)

The defense had themselves a rough game down in NYC.  I have strong concerns about the refereeing on the day, but there was no mistaking this Andrew Farrell penalty in the 9th minute.  It begins with poor pass from Farrell.  Before you know it NYCFC is sprinting towards the penalty area in transition.  Farrell doubles down on his mistake by sliding in late and taking out Talles Magno.

Farrell’s no-good very bad half continued when he was shown a red-card in the 41st minute for pulling down Valentin Castellanos.  This play also gave NYCFC their 3rd penalty kick of the half, and their second goal.

Also receiving votes

John Bell and Tommy McNamara also had a rough game in spots.  Jon Bell came on at the half to make up for Andrew Farrell’s dismissal.  He and McNamara had a costly miscommunication on NYCFCs 3rd goal.  Bye passes the ball into the middle of the field and both players think that the other is going to receive it.  Instead, Pereira pounces on their indecision and races down the field.

PS: The MLS social media team is going to emphasize Pereira “putting players on skates”, but I have no problem with both Kessler and Petrovic diving to make the block on that cutback.

The Ugly (Uglier)

Well we’ve made it, folks.  The part of the article where I get to whine about how the refs were mean to me.

Ok, well not mean to me personally.  But, if you listen to Bruce Arena after the game, you’ll hear him demand an apology.  After losing 4-2, that’s only ever going to sound like sour grapes, but he may have a point.

I say this knowing full well that I’m a fan of a team recently impacted by perceived refereeing slights, but it bears mentioning.  If you ever see the MLS website bragging about a new record number of PKs awarded, and they all took place in under 40 minutes, and they all went against the same team… it’s probably the refs screwing up.  The referees in MLS are famously inconsistent with their discipline.  There are muliple “worst MLS ref power rankings” for crying out loud.  So when Bruce Arena says this:

I believe him.  I also believe my own eyes.  The first penalty kick I covered above, but was a pretty obvious decision.  The second and third penalties were much more controversial.  The second penalty was awarded when Henry Kessler runs into two NYCFC players in the box, while a cross floated overhead.  To my untrained eye, there was no foul at all here.  It seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill coming together of players who were too busy looking for the ball to realize they were about to collide.

The third penalty came with bonus red card action, as New York lumped a ball in behind for Castellanos to run onto.  He beats Farrell to the ball, there’s contact, he falls down, Bob’s your uncle.

We’re going to ignore, for the time being, that Castellanos falls backwards while he’s being pushed from behind, almost as if he was expecting his jersey to be tugged backwards.  We’re going to ignore that the ball had taken a high bounce, perhaps making a penalty his best chance at a goal.  I can ignore those and call this a foul.  It’s insanely soft, but fine.  Since Farrell is the last defender back, when the ref blows his whistle he needs to also show a red card for DOGSO.  Fine.

What is harder to ignore is the following.  If the push is the foul, then that contact is initiated outside of the penalty area.  In this case, both Farrell and Castellanos are just outside the box, from my perspective, making it a red card and a free kick from just outside the area.

Also receiving votes

There’s a controversy surrounding Jozy yelling at an assistant coach, telling him to “F*** off”.  This supposedly took place after finding out that Arena would not be subbing him into the game.  It’s not a great look for Altidore who has failed to impress in his half season in New England.

 

That said, I’d rather he show frustration about not making an appearance than show apathy.  He’s not produced so far, but I’m holding out hope that he can make an impact somewhere down the line.

Photo Credit: Getty Images SportTim Bouwer/ISI Photos

 

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