FOXBORO — The glitz and glamour of LA proved too much Saturday night for the host Revolution.
Los Angeles FC bolstered its growing reputation as the best team in MLS this season by scoring once in each half to blank the Revs, 2-0, and bring a halt to the hosts’ team record-tying 11-game unbeaten streak.
The loss represented the first time the Revs (9-9-6) have been held off the scoresheet since May 18, when they battled Montreal Impact to a 0-0 tie during the brief stint of Mike Lapper as interim coach.
Saturday night’s game drew a crowd of 25,515, by far the largest home draw of the season for the Revs and just shy of the 27,565 on hand for last Sunday’s “friendly” between Portugal side Benfica and Serie A entry AC Milan.
In the much-anticipated duel, Western Conference front-running Los Angeles FC (16-3-4) improved its road mark to 10-0-1 road mark and a goals differential of plus-38, both tops in MLS. The Revs entered as the hottest team in the league, their 7-0-4 unbeaten mark tying the 2005 squad for best unbeaten streak in club history. It had enabled the Revs to climb out of the Eastern Conference cellar after a 2-8-2 start into seventh place.
“The better team won the game tonight, no question about that,” said Revs new Sporting Director and head coach Bruce Arena. “For us to get a chance to get a result we had to do a better job with a couple of the chances that we created. We wasted a couple of chances. I thought that (LA) dominated the middle third of the field. They’re a better team physically, and mentally. Their three midfielders playing up high are pretty impressive. I think it’s a part of their game that is not as appreciated as much as it should.”
The tempo was high from the get-go, and it was LA that jumped ahead in the eighth minute. MLS All-Star forward Diego Rossi, a 21-year-old native of Uruguay, continued his stellar campaign by lobbing a perfectly placed left-foot shot from 30 yards out over the head of Revs keeper Matt Turner on the dead run. The goal was the 13th of the season (fourth-best in MLS) for the 5-foot-7 speedster and his 25th in 55 career games.
The speed and quality of the Los Angeles forward tandem of Rossi and captain Carlos Vela of Mexico, attacking from a 4-3-3 spread, was repeatedly exerting pressure on the tight, compact back line of the Revs, who displayed a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Revs had a bid in the 15th minute when Cristian Penilla delivered a ball that bounced off the chest of dazzling newcomer Gustavo Bou as he raced to the edge of the 18-yard box but the ball scooted ahead where LA keeper Tyler Miller snared it.
Norwegian forward Adama Diomande appeared to be seriously injured when he slid in an attempt to wrest control from Revs midfielder Luis Caicedo. Diomande immediately clutched his left leg and looked in pain as the game was halted while team personnel attended. Diomande reached the sideline under his own power and re-entered the action a minute or so later.
Andrew Farrell drew the biggest and most well-deserved cheer of the evening when he came to the rescue of Turner and his team in the 41st minute. A ball off the foot of Vela got past Turner and was rolling toward the vacant cage. Farrell made a sliding kick save off the end line to prevent the 1-goal deficit from growing.
A big moment for the Revs came in the 50th minute when a lead ball sprung forward Teal Bunbury. The veteran forward made a long run and down the left with Bou coming late into the picture on the right. Bunbury shot wide of the mark. Subsequently, the Revs’ first and only shot on target in the game came later in the 59th minute by Carles Gil.
“It stinks, especially at home. But, I’m still proud of the way we played. We created some chances,” said Bunbury, who admitted he saw Bou alongside. “We were not as clinical. The killer instinct wasn’t there. It’s disappointing. But those are things that are easy enough to control. We just have to work hard together and not put our heads down. Sometimes you need a loss like this to get things back in order.”
Turner (five saves) was sharp at the other end, diving to knock away a left-foot bid by the ever-dangerous Vela in the 54th minute.
The Revs’ comeback hopes took a hit in the 72nd minute after Los Angeles exhibited some brilliant passing work right-to-left across the front. Defender Jordan Harvey sent the ball back the opposite way to the far post where 22-year-old Ghanian Latif Blessing waited for Farrell to slide past before depositing a left-foot shot behind Turner. It was the third goal for Blessing this season.
Former Revs favorite Lee Nguyen, now toiling for LA, entered the game in the 79th minute as a substitute. Nguyen, who ranks among the all-time category leaders for the Revs, received a nice reception from the fans on hand.