HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — If the New England Revolution are going to shed their mantle as the team that can’t quite seal the deal, maybe it’ll be the midseason addition of Jermaine Jones that helped them finally get over the hill.
Jones, who played for the United States at this past summer’s World Cup, finished a counter attack in the 85th minute with a tap-in and gave New England a 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls Sunday to put the Revolution within a draw of the MLS Cup final.
Having earned the tag as the “Buffalo Bills of MLS” for its four trips to the MLS championship game without a win, the Revolution are the closest they’ve been to the title match since the last trip in 2007.
The result gives the Revolution a significant advantage heading home for the second leg of the aggregate-goals series on Saturday at Gillette Stadium. They will need only a tie on Saturday at home at Gillette Stadium to advance and face either Los Angeles or Seattle.
The 33-year-old Jones, who joined the team in August after a club career in Germany, England and Turkey, has been widely credited as being the piece that has pushed the Revolution to the brink of returning to the final.
“I don’t think anyone could anticipate what Jermaine would add,” New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “I think that we had a great core, but no one thought a guy like that would come in and really just solidify everything we were doing.”
Since Jones signed with New England on Aug. 24, the Revolution have won 11 of 13 games with only one loss.
Jones knocked in a cross inside the six from Teal Bunbury, who sent the ball across from the right after Lee Nguyen started the break in midfield.
“Lee read it well and he played it out to Teal and I had the time to go a little bit back,” Jones said. “He crossed it and I scored.
“It’s now on Red Bull. They have to score and they have to win that game. It’s good for us. We can sit a little bit back.”
Bunbury gave the Revolution the lead early and Bradley Wright-Phillips equalized midway through the first half.
New England led in the 17th minute when Bunbury took the ball on the right, touched it around Amboise Oyongo and struck a left-footed drive from just outside the area that curled inside the left post.
Wright-Phillips tied the match in the 27th minute but will miss the second leg after his second yellow card of the playoffs in the 60th minute for challenging New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth as he attempted to put the ball back into play.
Wright-Phillips’ yellow card was one of 10 in the match issued by referee Alan Chapman.
“The referee lost control of the game tonight for both teams,” New York coach Mike Petke said. “I almost wanted to get a yellow because I felt left out.”
New York won both previous matches against New England this season, including a 2-0 victory on June 8 that ended a 12-year winless streak in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The victory for New England was its first at Red Bull Arena and first to New York in 10 trips since 2007.
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