Saturday night’s matchup between the New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union came down to one mistake and a VAR decision, and like most often this year, things didn’t go New England’s way.
After a scoreless opening half, Philadelphia took the lead through Cory Burke in the 53rd minute. Haris Medunjanin played a ball over the top for Burke who went in on goal all alone. The linesman raised his offsides flag on the pass, which caused the Revolution backline to switch off and stop the play. However, the referee did not blow his whistle, which let Burke go in on goal and slot the ball past Matt Turner to give the Union a 1-0 lead.
The referee originally called the goal back for offsides, but after a video review, the referee gave the eventual winning goal to the Union. While many fans were disgruntled by the reversed call, Revolution head coach Brad Friedel said the referee made the right decision.
“The referee on that play got it absolutely correct, but it’s a difficult one because as the player hits it the linesman puts his flag up,” Friedel said. “When he puts his flag up, all the players stop, including all of their players, except for Burke. To the letter of the law it’s a goal but it’s a hard one to take. You clearly hear the whistle after the ball has already hit the back of the net. On this occasion I cannot openly say that it was the referee’s mistake.”
After the game, Turner took the blame for the goal despite the fact his backline switched off and let Burke slip through on goal unchallenged.
“You’re always told to play to the whistle so I just played to the whistle and in that one-on-one he beat me,” Turner said. “That was my job on the play and I didn’t come through for the team. I usually like myself in those situations, I’ve done a pretty good job of that this year so far. [I’m] just frustrated with myself because I dove in and I was punished.”
Following the Union goal, the Revolution came out much stronger on the offensive side of the ball, but were unable to find an equalizing goal. Much of this was due to the efforts of Philadelphia’s goalkeeper Andre Blake, who ended the night with four saves and a clean sheet. Turner said it was frustrating that the team failed to capitalize on their chances late in the game, but also gave Blake credit for his performance.
“I think we built ourselves back into the game and credit to Andre Blake, he out-goalkeeped me tonight,” Turner said. “He did really well and made a couple great saves that kept the union in the game. We’re frustrated not to get anything out of it but we’ve been saying that a lot this year.”
Defender Andrew Farrell said he saw promise in the effort the Revolution put in during the game, but in the end their one big mistake was their undoing.
“I think the boys put in a great effort tonight,” Farrell said. “Obviously it’s difficult, we’ve been on a tough run for two months now. We came out with good energy and created some good chances here and there but on the night we gave one or two good chances and Philly is a good enough team that they’ll punish you for it.”
With this defeat, the Revolution are now winless in their last eight games with their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. New England sits in seventh place with 29 points, which puts them four points off of the Montreal Impact in sixth place—the final playoff spot. With only nine games left in the season, Farrell said it’s important that New England gets something from every remaining game.
“With nine games now we need to win every single game or get a result every single game,” Farrell said. “It’s not mathematically over and we’re not going to stop fighting until it is.”
After recently losing games to playoff rivals such as the Union and DC United, Turner said that every game is extremely important going forward.
“We wanted to treat every game like a cup final,” Turner said. “That’s one cup final lost.”
The Revolution are next in action on Saturday Sept. 1 at home against the Portland Timbers. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m.