The New England Revolution jumped out to a great start, but error-prone defending burnt them again as they were forced to settle for an eventful 3-3 draw with Chivas USA. The draw extends their winless run to nine games, but halts the losing streak at five. The Revs held a 3-0 lead in the 21st minute.
The match's major storyline was Shalrie Joseph, the Revolution's all-time appearances leader and former captain who made his first return to Foxboro in an opponent's jersey. Not one to shy away from the big occasion, Joseph marked his return with two emphatic goals, spurring his new team on in a heroic comeback to claim a vital road point.
"Being 3-0 down and coming back and getting a point shows a lot of character in this team," said Joseph. "We just have to move forward and try and get another one and get some points Saturday in San Jose."
The Revs jumped out to an early lead when Saer Sene unleashed a ludicrous volley in the 4th minute to give the home side the lead. The goal was his tenth of the season, making him the first Revolution player since Taylor Twellman in 2007 to score double-digit goals in one season.
"He's a special player for us and someone that when we score goals, he seems to be around it," said head coach Jay Heaps. "He's creative and he's dangerous and he's unique - and I like that about him."
After another seven minutes, the Revolution found their lead doubled. Kelyn Rowe cut to the byline on the right and played in a dangerous cross that put the Chivas defense under pressure. In his effort to keep the ball from reaching an open Jerry Bengtson in the six-yard box, Rauwshan McKenzie directed the ball into his own net for an own-goal.
Then, in the 21st minute, Sene made it a brace. Bengtson took the ball off of Joseph (perhaps the only glaring error the Foxboro legend made all game) and nudged it on to Sene. The Frenchman picked his head up and drilled a swerving shot from 25 yards out that wrong-footed Dan Kennedy and found net.
"I play, I'm a striker," said Sene. "I'm here to score goals for the team and that's what I try to do every game."
From there, the game fell apart for New England. Joseph headed home from a Nick LaBrocca corner in the 23rd minute to get one back for Chivas. Then he doubled his tally in first-half stoppage time with a well-struck curler from distance.
The third Chivas goal was all-too familiar to disheartened Revolution fans who have watched the recent run of bad fortune in Foxboro. The Revolutin defense switched off on a Chivas throw-in, and suddenly Juan Agudelo was all alone in a dangerous spot on the right flank. The USA striker's cross found the head of Casey Townsend at the far post, who rose above a despairing Kevin Alston to head the ball back into the middle of the box. Miller Bolanos was waiting, and in the 47th minute, Chivas USA had completed their three-goal comeback.
"I just kept pushing guys and just believing," said Joseph. "Once we started to push guys, we just got that feeling that we can be right back in it after we get the second one, and (Juan) Agudelo played me a great ball to my left foot and I just tried to curl it. It went in and it felt good, and after that we just kept pushing and pushing."
Joseph's influence on the match was palpable, and a cursory look at the stats could reflect that. Chivas beat the Revolution out in possession, passing accuracy, and total passes as Joseph controlled the midfield with simple passes and searching balls, always attempting to find the players in the best position to make a better play.
It was a display that will have some fans wondering why Joseph was ever traded. Others will remember that Joseph had tallied just one goal and one assist so far in 2012 before his trade, and that performances like this one were becoming a rarity. For his part, Jay Heaps was unsurprised.
"He put this team on his back and he did a nice job," said Heaps. "He's always going to be a Rev, it's just a little bit of time when he's not.
"But in terms of what he did tonight, I never questioned that guy."