FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Facing a one-goal aggregate deficit, the New England Revolution plummeted into a four-goal aggregate abyss before the hour, as Joe Public FC thieved an unlikely 4-0 victory, and advanced Group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League Tuesday night at Gillette Stadium.
Gregory Richardson registered a hat trick (17th minute, 45th minute and 81st minute) and Roen Nelson chipped in with a goal in the 49th minute.
The 6-1 aggregate result for the Trinidadian eleven marked the first win for a Caribbean team in CONCACAF Club competition history.
“Tonight, we played marvelously,” said Joe Public FC manager Keith Griffith. “We played extremely well, and very well organized.”
The guests kicked off the scoring in the 17th minute, when, off a Revolution give away, Nelson took hold of the ball and fed it forward to Richardson. The Joe Public striker raced into the box and pushed the ball past Matt Reis for the first goal of the game, thus giving the Revolution a steep two-goal aggregate deficit before the 20th minute.
The Revolution tried to dig their way out in the 24th minute when Mauricio Castro launched a corner kick from the right corner. But Castro’s cross failed to connect with a teammate, and the ball quickly returned to Joe Public.
Perhaps the best chance of the night for New England came off a Revolution throw in, Jay Heaps pushed it diagonal to Shalrie Joseph, quickly took it goalward all alone before chipping the ball wide of the far post in the 35th minute.
At the 40th minute, Wolry Wolfe tested Reis with a rising hard shot that forced the keeper airborne before his right pad deflected the ball away, as a rare Joe Public shot failed to find itself in the net.
But Joe Public didn’t miss at the 45th minute when Richardson took on defender Gabriel Badilla deep into the box before unleashing a sharp-angled shot that tucked itself inside the far post for the 2-0 lead.
“To be honest, we saw (New England) play Toronto (on August 23rd) and their wingbacks were weak,” said Griffith. “So we used our speed. Quick feet. Good movement. Good shooting.”
Entering the second half, the Revolution, tied to a three goal albatross, tried to shut down the quick feet and good shooting in order to salvage a sliver of respect in front of the home crowd. However, any shards of self-esteem were effectively crushed when Richardson sent a brilliant pass to Roen, who fired a hard shot that slipped into the net during the 49th minute and pushed the Revolution into a cavernous four-goal ditch before the hour mark.
With little to play for, and a 1-5 aggregate score hanging above them, the Revolution simply failed to scrape together attacking chances. As the match painfully crawled to its conclusion, Joe Public exploited the lackadaisical New England defending corps for the remainder of the night.
“We were done,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol. “We (had) nothing in the tank.”
To compound the Revolution’s plight, Khano Smith limped off the pitch with an apparent injury in the 77th minute. With all three of its substitutes already dispatched, the injury put the Revolution in an unenviable position of playing a man down.
Adding insult to injury, Richardson completed the hat trick in the 81st minute when took a Silas Spann pass and fired a curling shot that evaded Reis for the fourth Joe Public goal of the game.
“It was one of my best performances in a long time, after being injured for two months,” said Richardson. “They just couldn’t handle (me).”
After the match, Nicol said his club can now focus on MLS competition, and finishing the season on a strong note.
“Absolutely. We can now concentrate on the league - and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” said Nicol.
Griffith thanked his players and staff for the emphatic result against a formidable MLS club like New England.
“It has been a good journey after joining the club a month ago,”said Griffith. “I want to thank my technical staff, as well as the players, who performed (incredibly).”