We’re only three weeks into the 2022 Major League Soccer season. There’s a long way to go, but a game on Saturday between the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake may have already wrapped up the prize for comeback (or choke job) of the season in MLS.
For 77 minutes, the Revs built a comfortable 2-0 lead at home during a driving snowstorm. The team looked like it would cruise to the finish line and the three points. Then, Real Salt Lake hit the gas and stunned former U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena’s crew.
The New England Revolution built a comfortable 2-0 lead against Real Salt Lake
Bruce Arenas and the New England Revolution faced off with Liga MX (Mexico) side Pumas UNAM in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series last Wednesday. The Revs started a strong squad and cruised to a 3-0 victory at home.
Because of the midweek fixture, Arenas rested some usual starters on Saturday for the MLS clash against Real Salt Lake. Starting midfielders Carles Gil, Sebastian Lletget, Matt Polster, and center back Omar Gonzalez began the game on the bench.
For 77 of the 90 minutes, it didn’t seem to matter, though.
The Revs got on the board just before the halftime whistle. After the ball ping-ponged around the box off a corner kick, midfielder Emmanuel Boateng beat the keeper to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Seventeen minutes after the teams returned to the pitch, former USMNT star Jozy Altidore tallied his first goal with the Revolution to give his new team a commanding 2-0 lead.
Then Real Salt Lake showed up.
Real Salt Lake pulled off a miraculous comeback
Down two with 12 minutes to go, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac McGrath booted the ball downfield in the hopes of getting something going. The ball skipped and slid on the snow and ended up on the foot of RSL striker Bobby Wood.
A New England Revolution defender took Wood down for what would have been a penalty, but the ref played the advantage, and FC Augsburg loanee Sergio Córdova slotted it home to cut the Revs’ lead to one.
Just 10 minutes later, RSL was at it again. With just two-and-a-half minutes in regular time, MF Pablo Ruiz sent a free-kick into the 18-yard box that found CB Justen Glad to tie the game at two-all.
With a point in hand, Salt Lake still had one last magical moment left in them. Three minutes into stoppage time, winger Tate Schmitt beat New England keeper Earl Edwards with a rocket from the top of the box, completing the wild comeback.
What’s next for these two teams?
As the New England Revolution lick their wounds after what could become the choke of the 2022 season, the squad doesn’t have much time to rest. The good news is they don’t have exceedingly challenging opponents next week.
On Wednesday, the Revs travel to Mexico City for their second CONCACAF Champions League leg vs. Pumas UNAM. When the crew returns on Saturday, they’ll take on Charlotte FC in the week’s MLS match.
Charlotte, a 2022 expansion team, got its first-ever goal this week vs. Atlanta United but is still winless after a 2-1 loss.
For Real Salt Lake, now tied atop the Western Conference with Los Angeles FC, next Saturday brings yet another tough matchup. Last year’s Western Conference semifinalist welcomes Nashville FC, fresh off a frustrating loss to FC Dallas.
Hopefully, for RSL, the game won’t be as snowy as this past Saturday. However, playing against Nashville’s stingy D, it might feel like they’re slogging through the slop again.