So, not a perfect weekend, but a pretty good one nonetheless!
Let’s start with last night…
New England Revolution v. Columbus Crew
These two Eastern Conference clubs faced off in a very rainy Gillette Stadium last night with playoff implications for both clubs- but more so for Columbus.
The scoring opened in the 20th minute when Lee Nguyen made a run into the left side of the penalty area and took a flicked-on pass from Charlie Davies which the promptly deposited into the right bottom corner of the Columbus goal.
This was Nguyen’s 14th goal of the season*- a record for a New England midfielder- to go along with five assists. Nguyen also turned in another spectacular defensive effort. I think a good case could be made for Nguyen being the best “two way” midfielder, and maybe even “player,” in the league this year. Anything less than serious MVP consideration and a call-up to the USMNT would be an in justice. *Did I mention that half of those goals have been game winners?
Columbus, unfortunately, would equalize only five minutes later through Ethan Finlay, and that would be the end of the scoring for until the finally third of the match. Still, despite the conditions, the level of play was high (if a little “chippy”) and the clubs spent the middle third of the match marching up an down the field and producing good scoring chances at both ends.
In the 67th minute it was “that man” again! New England had a free kick and Chris Tierney- how good is his left foot?- whipped a ball into the box which would have produced an offside call if Charlie Davies and A.J. Soares hadn’t jumped out of the way of the ball (as you’ll see in the highlight below) allowing an onside Jermaine Jones to meet it at the back post and nod the ball into the net on the bounce.
Jones now has two goals (both match winners) and three assists in five matches since joining the Revolution- the Revs are 5-0-0 in those matches.
The match was essentially over three minutes later when Columbus’ Costa Rican international defender Waylon Francis picked up his second yellow card and the red that comes with it after clumsily trying to prevent Charlie Davies from taking a throw-in on a New England counter attack. It was among the more stupid red cards I’ve ever seen and could have playoff implications for the Crew.
All of that being said, for the second match in a row the real story was New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth who was the key to the match for the home side. He made several spectacular saves to keep the Revs in the match, none better than a 1 v. 1 stonewalling of Tony Tchani on a breakaway.
New England jumped back into second place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-13-3 for 48 points) and are virtually (I believe the number is 99.97%) guaranteed of a spot in the playoffs. The loss, combined with the Red Bull’s win over the Dynamo dropped the Crew into the last playoff spot, only three points ahead of Toronto, who still have to play the Galaxy today.
The Revolution travel to Montreal next Saturday.
Meanwhile, it was Highland Derby Day in Scotland…
A win would have been nice (especially with the slow start to the season), but an away point from the derby against an Inverness Caledonian Thistle that is hovering at the top of the table will do nicely for the moment.
County opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Yoann Arquin headed in a lobbed ball from midfielder Rocco Quinn, giving the visitors a well-deserved lead after they bossed much of the first half. County continued on the front foot during the rest of the first half, culminating in a bad miss by Quinn in the 32nd minute.
Shortly after halftime the match turned when Caley’s Marley Watkins beat County goalkeeper Mark Brown to draw the home side level. From this point forward Thistle had the upper hand and were it not for a stellar second half from Mark Brown County would have lost that valuable away point. Brown shut down further efforts from Watkins, from Billy McKay, and from Aaron Doran so spectacularly that ICTFC manager complimented Brown after the match by stating that he wanted to “strangle” the County netminder.
County remain in last place, but only three points out of 10th place and safety from relegation. Next up, Celtic at home next Saturday.
And hey, speaking of Celtic. They lost to first place/newly-promoted Hamilton Academical today. Sixth place Celtic have a match in hand over the five clubs above them, but even if you give them three points for that match they only move up to a tie for third place.