The New England Revolution and Columbus Crew SC struck up quite a nice little rivalry throughout the 2014 season, culminating in a physically grueling two-legged series in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
On Saturday the heated affair was renewed, but despite the return of US international Jermaine Jones for his first action of the season, neither team could break through on a windy day at Gillette Stadium. The match finished in a scoreless draw.
Crew SC took the pace of the game early on, controlling 59 percent of the first-half possession and gaining their best opportunities off their five corner kicks, none of which were put on frame.
The Revolution produced some intense pressure later in the first half, setting up shop around the box in the 37th minute. But much like Crew SC, New England could not muster a goal.
The heat started to turn up a notch in the second half, with more physical play and the typical shoving and finger-pointing from both sides on display.
In the 62nd minute, Lee Nguyen was fouled by Tony Tchani at the top of box, which caused a bit more pushing and shoving. But the players were cleared apart and Nguyen’s ensuing low, sinking free kick was handled by Steve Clark.
Much of the rest of the action was played through the middle third, as both defenses buckled down on any dangerous build-ups.
New England wound up with the last viable crack at breaking the deadlock, but Nguyen couldn't find a proper target with his corner kick service in stoppage time.
Jones returned to New England’s lineup for the first time since last season’s MLS Cup loss. The Revolution's Designated Player looked out of shape in the 45 minutes he played, picking up a yellow and missing an excellent opportunity from the top of the six-yard box blocked away by Emanuel Pogatetz.
Crew SC, who are 1-2-1, will get their first-ever look at Orlando City SC when they host the expansion club next Saturday. The Revolution, meanwhile, travel to Philadelphia to face the Union on Sunday.