The New York Red Bulls have had a hard time getting points on the road this season, and historically they have a hard time getting points on the road in New England in any season - so it was by no means expected that RBNY would stroll into Gillette Stadium on Wednesday evening in July carrying a heavy burden of history and stroll out with three points.
But that is what the Red Bulls did.
The last time this club found victory at the Razor was in 2014, when the Revolution was defeated 2-0 thanks to goals from Eric Alexander and Peguy Luyindula.
This time around, the Red Bulls have Gonzalo Veron to thank. The team’s Argentine DP has struggled to crack the starting lineup since arriving in mid-2015 and would seem to be on his way out of the club - but if his days with RBNY are numbered, he’s counting them down with remarkable commitment to his teammate’s cause.
Subbed into the match in the 83rd minute for his traditional too-late-to-do-much appearance from the bench, Veron made memorable use of his limited time. In the 90th minute, Felipe threaded a pass through the back line, but the ball held up at the top of the box and it did not seem that Veron had a shot - until he demonstrated that he very much did.
The late goal stood up as the match-winner, handing RBNY just its sixth road win over the Revolution in all competitions (six wins from 39 away games against the Revs). And the win made Jesse Marsch the winningest head coach in his club’s regular-season history.
Not quite the all-time winningest coach as suggested by RBNY: the all-competitions record (and assuming the Red Bulls would like to win US Open Cup or MLS Cup, wins in those competitions are significant too) is now jointly held by Marsch and Oscar Zambrano. But 42 regular-season wins breaks Marsch out of a three-way tie with Zambrano and Hans Backe or the club’s all-time record for league victories.
For most of the game, a win seemed well out of RBNY’s reach. In the 21st minute, the team was punished for poor defending and tons of ball watching, as Teal Bunbury took advantage of space at the far post to open the scoring.
Diego Fagundez kept the ball on his foot like it was on a string. He attacked along the near side of the pitch, cut inside the area and not a single Red Bulls defender tried to knock him off the ball before he found Bunbury wide open.
But Bradley Wright-Phillips found a way to level the match two minutes later - simply lashing a loose ball to the back of the net from the top of the box.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for more ball watching to gift the Revs a second goal. Three minutes after BWP’s tally, it was Diego Fagundez once again with the ball on his foot - he ripped a low shot that was stopped by Robles, but Lee Nguyen had all the time and space he needed to slot home the rebound.
After three goals in five minutes, the teams played out the rest of the first half without further scoring, but it seemed the home side was having the better of the match.
It still seemed like the Revs would find another goal when Sean Davis was tripped by Gershon Koffie in the box and Daniel Royer knocked home a 55th-minute equalizer for RBNY from the penalty spot.
The Red Bulls will be back in the Boston area next week to play New England in the quarterfinals of the 2017 US Open Cup. That game will played at Harvard University, where RBNY will hope the lessons from this rare away-day win over the Revs can be applied to another victory.