Harrison, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Jermaine Jones netted the winning tally five minutes from time to lift the New England Revolution to a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship at Red Bull Arena.
The Revolution entered the tie with supreme confidence following the club's 7-3 aggregate thrashing of the Columbus Crew in the East semifinals, and it was Jay Heaps' club that had the upper hand early.
The first great chance came after just four minutes when Jones got his head on a Chris Tierney free kick and sent it on goal with pace, forcing New York goalkeeper Luis Robles into a diving stop.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 16th minute as Teal Bunbury did well to collect the ball on the right side of the pitch. He cut inside on his left foot and unleashed a wicked, curling strike just inside the far post for the opening salvo.
The Red Bulls drew level 10 minutes later as Peguy Luyindula slipped in behind the New England defense but his point blank attempt was stopped by Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Luyindula had a second bite of the cherry from the seat of his pants that smacked the crossbar, but Bradley Wright Phillips cleaned up the rebound.
The winning tally came in the 85th minute as materialized as MVP candidate Lee Nguyen drove down the center of the pitch at the New York defense. He laid the ball off on the right flank to Bunbury, who then played it across the face of goal for Jones, who tapped it in at the back post.
The fourth official's board showed four minutes of added time and New York had a couple corner kicks deep in stoppage time, but the hosts could not find an equalizer and will hope to turn things around when the clubs meet for the second leg of the tie at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 29.