In front of a respectable crowd at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution cruised to an easy 2-0 victory over undermanned San Jose. Playing and losing their second match in four days, the Quakes were unable to collect a single point and will limp home hoping to put their road woes behind them.
"It's been tough time for us," said interim head coach Mark Watson. "The last two games we've had 16 players on the gameday roster. We knew we'd be up against it because New England is a good team."
An early strike from Saer Sene was all the Revs would need on a steamy evening in Foxborough, MA, as the Earthquakes found it very difficult to create any offense against the best defense in MLS. The home side added another goal through substitute Dimitry Imbongo to salt the game away in the second half.
"I was a bit disappointed with the first half, but I thought we responded well in the second half and had a couple chances to tie the game," said Watson. "They have the best goals-against in the league and we knew that they would be difficult."
Goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made seven saves against the Revolution and currently paces MLS in that category, kept the game close for the visitors for as long as he could. However, with their forwards in good form and their defense stout, New England was too much for San Jose and closed out the convincing win.
"We've been going through a rough stretch defensively and in many games we've played, Busch has come up big for us," said defender Jason Hernandez. "He keeps us in a lot of matches where maybe the score might be a little different. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get the job done well enough to make him work a little less."
The Earthquakes, who celebrated the goal scoring heroics of teammates Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson for the U.S. Men's National Team against Guatemala the night before, were shutout for the eighth time this season and fifth time in their last nine games. San Jose returns to the Bay Area hoping a more home-heavy schedule will allow them to climb back into the playoff hunt.
"We've had a long road stretch here, and it'll be nice to get home," said Busch. "We've got some work to do, obviously, on the training field, so that will come this week. But it'll be nice to be home and hopefully get back on track, and start picking up some points at home."
New England started the match strong, and for the 14th time this season, the Earthquakes conceded the first goal, as in the 13th minute the defense could not stop a determined Sene from scoring. The French forward took a speculative shot from distance that Busch did well to parry away, but after teammate Lee Nguyen distributed the rebound back to him at the top of the arc, Sene fired a curling ball that ripped the back of the net.
New England nearly doubled their lead in the 20th minute, but after getting free on the byline, Chad Barrett elected to cross through the box and it harmlessly rolled away. Barrett had an even better scoring opportunity in the 28th minute, breaking away from the Quakes defense along the left touchline, but his chipped shot past Busch bounced just wide of the far post.
Busch was called into service in the 34th minute to stop an Andrew Farrell drive past the defense and into the box that looked certain to pay dividends. Instead, the Quakes ‘keeper got a toe to Farrell's shot to deflect it over the target. A perfect give-and-go sequence with Kelyn Rowe in midfield allowed Farrell the opportunity.
The teams exchanged yellow cards prior to halftime when first Walter Martinez barreled into Farrell in the New England end to see a caution and Farrell returned the favor near the center line as he slammed Martinez into the advertising boards to earn one of his own.
Intermission couldn't come soon enough for San Jose, as the Revolution was lucky not to be leading by more than one goal. With 11 shots, 6 on target, compared to 1 shot, 0 on target for the Earthquakes, New England was dominate on the offensive side of the ball. If not for a man-of-the-first-half performance from Busch, the score would have been much worse than 1-0.
New England came out to start the second half much the same way they played in the first. Nguyen was first to test the low pressure defensive line in the 47th minute when he struck a shot from the top of the area that went wide of the target. Rowe had an open look off a deflected cross from Chris Tierney in the 58th minute, but his shot from a tight angle found side netting.
In the 69th minute, the Earthquakes finally tested Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth as Sam Cronin took a shot from well outside the area that required his full attention to save. New England center backs Jose Goncalves and Stephen McCarthy continued to frustrate the Earthquakes forward tandem of Alan Gordon and Adam Jahn, forcing San Jose to try their luck from distance.
A rare foray into the New England box provided the Quakes a golden chance to equalize in the 75th minute. Playing one-on-one against his defensive marker, Shea Salinas dragged a good ball to the endline and cut a pass back through the area, but Jahn scuffed his shot and the Revolution comfortably cleared the loose ball.
The missed opportunity proved costly three minutes later when second half substitute Imbongo pounded home a loss cross from Nguyen and extended New England's lead to 2-0. The Congolese forward nearly made it a brace two minutes later, but his header from close range was blocked by Busch.
The Earthquakes came close to pulling a goal back in the 89th minute, as they pushed numbers forward with nothing else to lose. On a corner kick attempt, defender Brad Ring lined up a bicycle kick that was long on style but short on accuracy, and the ball screamed by the wrong side of the post. San Jose would get no closer to scoring in the match and dropped their second straight road game of the week.
The Quakes return home to face Western Conference rivals Seattle Sounders FC next Saturday, July 13, at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Video highlights of the Revolution's 2-0 win over the Earthquakes: