MLS New England Revolution

Match Report: Nashville 2, Revolution 0 — A slow start, sloppy play hampers New England

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Everything you need to know about the Revolution’s 2-0 loss to Nashville SC Saturday afternoon, in quickie form:

THE SKINNY

Revs fall in Tennessee: It certainly wasn’t pretty, folks, and because of that, New England has its first loss of 2021. The Revolution lost, 2-0, on goals by CJ Sapong and Alex Muyl on either side of halftime, and it didn’t help New England’s cause that it was rather sloppy with the ball and gifted it to the hosts. The Revs are now 2-1-1 on the season while Nashville earned its first victory after coming into Saturday afternoon with three successive draws.

Offense comes to life a bit, but defense gifts second goal: It took a while for New England’s offense to, well, show up to Nissan Stadium, and it wasn’t until the 63rd minute that they did anything substantive. In that particular sequence, DeJuan Jones had made some nifty moves and found Carles Gil, who volleyed to Adam Buksa. But the Big Pole whacked it off the post, the closest the Revs had come to scoring. Tajon Buchanan had a cross a few minutes later that Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis corralled uncontested, with no one in the Navy Blue making a near post run. Tajon had a floater to Buksa soon after, but he headed over. But in the 75th minute, a bad turnover by Matt Polster in the defending third went to Muyl, who caught Matt Turner out of position and scored to wrap up three points for Nashville.

VAR denies Revs late penalty: It was the talk of the hashtag Saturday, and supporters are rather disgruntled that a penalty wasn’t awarded to The Boys In Blue, but VAR did not go New England’s way late in the match. Buksa appeared taken down from behind by Nashville’s Alistair Johnston, but referee Victor Rivas did not award a penalty. Neither did VAR, who determined there was no foul called. It wouldn’t have made a difference in the match; the goal difference, sure.

Sapong puts Nashville ahead, Revs fruitless in first 45: New England had 54.1 percent possession to go along with 83.3 percent passing accuracy in the first half Saturday, but you could have fooled me. The Revs also had one shot on-target with three blocked in that opening stanza. Still, even with those numbers, Nashville went into the locker room ahead, 1-nil, after Sapong, that old Revs killer, made the onion bag burp in the 25th as Walker Zimmerman’s header off Daniel Lovitz’s deep volley landed in prime real estate for his first of the year and his seventh career goal against New England. The Revs offense just couldn’t get going, as that last bad pass went to Nashville and sent play the other way.

One change as Bye sits: Bruce Arena only made one switch to the starting XI for Saturday’s matinee, as Brandon Bye moved to the bench, with Buchanan moving from the wing to right back, while Gustavo Bou returned to the lineup following last week’s miss. Maciel made his second consecutive start in the defensive midfield alongside Polster. Arnór Traustason, Gil, Buksa, and Bou rounded out the attack. Former Boston University striker Dominique Badji got the start for Nashville alongside Sapong.

WHO’S HOT

Carles Gil: The Spaniard might have been the only one who wanted to play any type of offensive-minded football Saturday, given his demonstrative reactions to the Revs’ lack of movement.

Tajon Buchanan: For his first match in the defense this season, not bad. And he helped keep things copacetic in the early goings.

WHO’S NOT

Matt Polster: A bad pass turnover in the 75th minute gives Nashville three points.

Offense: Only four shots on-target on 12 shots. And no one moved. Bou, invisible. Traustason, invisible.

LET’S TALK ABOUT STATS, BABY

Revs had an average of 45 percent of the ball.

86.1 percent passing accuracy

72.1 percent passing accuracy in the final third

WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW

Repeat after me: Referees do not win or lose games for a team. The players on the pitch do. That match was well over long before VAR made its decision. Do you seriously think New England was going to show up for the last four minutes if it became a 2-1 ballgame? They started pretty poorly, and finished pretty poorly.

That being known: It wasn’t a penalty, no matter how much you scream at the cloud in the sky. Buksa made that look worse than it was — which, to be fair, is what strikers do. He felt Johnston’s hands, knew he was in the penalty area, and he, well, flopped. It’s OK to admit that. VAR found no true foul. That happens. We get over it and we move on.

THEY SAID IT

“I think we came out a little slow today, and they punished us for it.” — Tajon Buchanan on Revolution Postgame Live

All that really needs to be said.

ON TAP

And we’ve reached the first short turnaround of the season, as the Revolution travel to Philadelphia next to take on the defending Supporter’s Shield holders, the Union. That one comes to you Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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