MLS New England Revolution

MLS Cup Playoffs Match Report: Columbus 1, Revolution 0 — Artur steers Crew to MLS Cup Final

Everything you need to know about the Revolution’s 1-0 loss to Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Final Sunday afternoon, in quickie form:

THE SKINNY

Revs’ 25th season closes one match from glory: The Revolution’s first December soccer game in six years ended much in the same way the last one did — on the short side, with the Patriots playing the Chargers. In a match where New England had difficulty in getting on the front foot against a Columbus team which executed its normal plan of attack — over the top balls by the ton — and utilized 47 percent of the ball, the The Boys In Blue fell to the Crew, 1-nil, in the Eastern Conference championship. Columbus now move on to MLS Cup next Saturday, where the Crew will host either Seattle Sounders or Minnesota United at MAPFRE Stadium.

Artur steers Columbus ahead: You can’t say this goal wasn’t coming, as the Crew — which have not fallen to New England in this venue since the 2014 playoffs — found the space to operate off what was their seventh corner kick of the match. After New England partially cleared the ball, Columbus regained possession and volleyed to Jonathan Mensah, who immediately laid it off to Artur. He popped it beyond Matt Turner’s reach — Henry Kessler ball-watched — to give the Crew the only goal they needed. The Revs had a couple of OK chances at the end, but nothing outstanding to write home about.

A scoreless first half: Columbus came right at Turner, as the Crew applied a barrage of pressure in the first 45 minutes. Turner made five saves as Columbus had upward of 54 percent of the ball and had six corners. New England had two shots, neither of which on target; Adam Buksa was blocked once, and while he got away, he found his 28th-minute try carom off their post; he had a hard-charging Gustavo Bou on the other side, but elected to take the shot. It took the Revs nearly half an hour to gain a foothold in the match as the pitch tilted toward Turner’s goal for far too long, and the Crew had a fairly easy time going up the gut.

Same XI again, DF14 makes the bench: Bruce Arena made no changes to the starting XI for the third consecutive match. There was only one notable change, and that was Leominster resident Diego Fagundez making his first match day squad since the regular-season finale. Columbus went with Andrew Tarbell in keep with Eloy Room listed as questionable.

WHO’S HOT

Matt Turner: Can’t call the goal his fault. Turner kept the team in this game, as he had five saves in the first half, and another save in the second half.

Andrew Farrell: The veteran had himself a sneaky good game, what one expects out of a two-time Defender of the Year. He helped keep Turner safe for the most part, and his wheels helped slow Columbus down.

WHO’S NOT

Attacking players: Outside of Buksa’s shot near the half-hour mark which could have been a goal either with the pass to Bou or via an own goal off C-Bus center back Josh Williams, where was the offense today? Bou was pretty much invisible, and he didn’t do anything with the ball when he eventually got it. Carles Gil had difficulty in getting on the ball, and outside of solid tracking back by Teal Bunbury, he didn’t have a good playoff series and ABC cameras caught his staring in silence after he found himself lifted for Brandon Bye.

Bruce Arena’s subs: You mean to tell me that with Lee Nguyen, Kekuta Manneh, and Fagundez available on the bench, he puts on Justin Rennicks in place of DeJuan Jones? That was a time for experience, and all three of them have it.

LET’S TALK ABOUT STATS, BABY

10 shots, 4 on-target for New England; Columbus had 16 and 7

52.7 percent possession

81 percent passing accuracy

1 yellow card issued to C-Bus’ Pedro Santos

WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW

It’s hard to fathom that in two of the last five matches, the opposition put in second-choice goalkeepers in Matt Freese from Philadelphia by way of Cambridge, and today Andrew Tarbell… and the Revolution offense doesn’t test them?

Tip your cap to Columbus. The Crew were stacked and jacked, played their game, the way they wanted to. They dominated — don’t let the 47 percent of the ball fool you, folks; the Revs had the ball more in the last 25 minutes, chasing the game — possession and really didn’t let Gil or Bou beat them. They took them out of the equation and made the rest of the Revs beat them.

THEY SAID IT

“I think (Columbus) deserved to win the game. Give them credit for the goal they created. They were better at anticipating than we were. Not that they did anything that goes in highlight reels, but they were sharper in the middle of the field.” — Bruce Arena

ON TAP

With the end of the Revs road reached, we will have our season in review posted in the next few days. Thank you for following the Revolution on the Bay State Soccer Sentinel this season.