Thanks to a suddenly outgrown Fernando Tapia in goal, Querétaro overcame New England in a PK shootout after things ended 1-1 in regulation. Both clubs scored their first 3 attempts, and that’s when Tapia decided to make his superheroe entrance. Nacho Gil was set to take the Revolution’s fourth PK and executed brilliantly to his bottom left corner. Unfortunately for him, Tapia guessed the shot’s direction and deflected the ball off the post and back into his firm grasp. Gallos never looked back from there and Tapia stopped the next PK taken by Ian Harkes to clinch the victory.
The first half was a true dog-fight. Both teams battled ferociously for the ball at midfield and struggled to create any consistent opportunities. Other than DeJuan Jones’s header that was bounced off the turf straight to the crossbar in the 20th minute and Jordan Sierra’s wide open attempt in the half-circle minutes later that went wide, neither team were able to find clear chances, despite New England dominating ball possession. With that being said, the two teams’ positions were clear; Querétaro were sitting back taking out the Revolution’s speed on the flanks and looking for a counter, while New England took initiative and looked to attack.
Coming out of the halftime break, a steal by Gallos in the Revolution’s half led to the goal on what truly was a great lob on the part of Pablo Barrera to find a streaking Jimmy Gómez. It was the obvious pass to make, but actually executing it, combined with Gómez giving it direction on goal like he did was much more difficult than it looks. A top class goal to say the least.
Gallos would have a couple more chances in the boots of Camilo Sanvezzo and Omar Mendoza, but Serbian keeper Djordje Petrovic proved his quality as well with two superb saves. Fatigue clearly started kicking in on Querétaro’s part and you could tell, with New England ramping up their opportunities and Gallos failing to have any possession of the ball. They lost the danger on the counter they had throughout the first part of the second half. Jonathan Perlaza fell victim to this precisely, as he tried to intercept a pass for Esmir Bajraktarevic, but was nowhere in the vicinity, leaving the American wide open for the long-distance equalizer.
I have to say I was particularly impressed by three things. First, Gerk’s game plan worked to perfection; within his 4-4-2 formation, he had the two outside midfielders (Barrera and Gómez) serve as a sort of second RB and LB, respectively, to help cancel out the speed of their rivals. He knew Mendoza was no match for Boateng, and even though Perlaza was able to control Buck, if Jones decided to attack, Gómez was there to help out with speed of his own. They were canceled out for the most part. Kudos to Gerk for that.
Second, shoutout to CBs Lértora and Manzanares in the midst of Gallos defensive injuries. Giacomo Vrioni was able to do zilch thanks to these two manning him the way they did. They never gave him an inch, and that was key to holding this offense.
Third, Jimmy Gómez. He played a heck of a game. And I’m not even counting his goal. He was excellent defensively, well positioned on each play, on point every single time he touched the ball, and knew when to risk it and go forward and when to play it safe. He was superb on that left sideline opposite to Pablo Barrera and was exactly what Querétaro needed if they wanted to win yesterday. He stepped up.
It is worth noting New England found themselves without two of their biggest stars in Gustavo Bou (knee) and Carles Gil who was injured against Atlas last game. Not to mention, the administrative leave that head coach Bruce Arena was placed on for his alleged inappropriate remarks. So, all in all, not the best conditions the Revolution would’ve hoped for to play a match like this.
All of that being said, still a huge result for Querétaro who continue to surprise everyone (Mexico included). This is the team who had to pay the biggest relegation fine at the end of last season and who had a consecutive run of 50 winless games on the road until they finally snapped it in early April. Gerk’s imprint on this team slowly and gradually continues to show as they garner better results, this time on an international level. Up next for Gallos is the winner from tonight’s game between Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls.