FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - This game had everything.
A disgruntled coach, a walkout from the home team's supporters' group, a second-half scuffle that led to an ejection. Oh, and the Union scoring a pair of nearly identical goals in a 30-minute span.
Against MLS Eastern Conference foe New England, a dominant first half and a diligent offensive/defensive effort from Sheanon Williams led to the Union's 3-0 win in front of a crowd of 13,414 at Gillette Stadium last night.
In doing so, the Union (8-4-7, 31 points) seized sole possession of first place, pulling away from ankle-biters New York (6-4-11, 29 points; tied Chivas USA Saturday, 0-0) and Columbus (7-5-7, 28 points; played to a scoreless draw against San Jose).
The Union jumped to a 2-0 lead against a listless Revolution in the 12th minute when Carlos Ruiz volleyed in a Keon Daniel header. That came after Justin Mapp used a nifty stepover to create space down the right flank. Just 12 minutes later, the Union was at it once more when a free kick by Kyle Nakazawa found Sebastien Le Toux' head. Le Toux smartly headed the ball to an onrushing Carlos Valdes, who scored a carbon-copy volley past Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis. Despite losing his goal-scoring knack this season, Le Toux' helper marked his seventh of the season.
Not sure if it was a sign of things to come, but during the halftime break U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" blared over the loudspeaker. Fitting, because the Revolution was getting battered all over the pitch in a game in which Revs boss Steve Nicol said his men were "playing like a bunch of schoolboys."
It took stoppage time, but Williams, a Boston native, scored his first MLS goal, breaking free in the box and slipping a shot underneath Reis to close the night out in grand style.
"Definitely wanted to get a goal, it's like a dream come true," Williams said with a smile that could have set off fireworks. "I am from Boston, born and raised, and to have my family up in the stands, my dad, I wished my mom and my brother could have made it out but my dad got to see it and a couple of my cousins, so it's a really great experience for me."
While it was a night to be celebrated by the Union, the Revolution didn't experience the same thrill. Not only were they outplayed but in the 16th minute its supporters' group, aptly named "The Fort," staged a walkout in protest to recent reports of its members getting harassed and mistreated by stadium security and with little regard by the front office to get to the bottom of it.
Members of the Revolution front office were unavailable for comment. But a Fort founding member later revealed that the relevance of the 16th minute was to represent the number of years the group has been dutiful supporters of one of MLS' original clubs.
Additionally, the fans that did stay witnessed one of the Revs' best players, Benny Feilhaber, receive an ejection in the 66th minute after his second yellow-card caution, for a shoulder check to the chest of Ruiz. Fuming, Feilhaber had some choice words for Ruiz, who lay writhing on the ground clutching his left ankle, prompting a miniature scuffle as players shoved and screamed choice insults. Postgame, the spewing continued in the exit tunnel as Feilhaber made Union manager Peter Nowak aware of his disapproval.
"It was a tense game and the people need the points, you have to expect [players] to act like that," Nowak said. "I think the frustration of what was happening on the field came out from Benny and that's how he chose to react in this particular moment. Those two fouls he committed were right on the edge of being yellow or reds, so it should be surprising he got sent off. I just told him he's too experienced of a player to be acting like this and he shouldn't be putting himself in these positions."
The position the Union is now in is first place in the East as it takes an MLS hiatus to play a pair of exhibition matches on short rest. The first will be Everton on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CSN) at PPL Park followed by Spanish giant Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday (9 p.m., ESPN Deportes).
Odds and endlines
Scoring first has benefited the Union. When the club makes the score sheet first, it is 7-0-2 this season . . . The Union had 12 shots (eight on goal), while New England had six shots, none on goal, despite a second-half rip from Chris Tierney that beat Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon but hit the corner where the post meets the crossbar . . . A handful of Sons of Ben members made the trip, a few sporting game jerseys from last Friday's inaugural River Cup, a charity match against the Union front office at PPL Park. The front office won, 2-1, a moment Peter Nowak said "provided a lot of confidence . . . going forward" after "taking it to the Sons of Ben.'' Nowak added: "I have two wins this week, my first being against the Sons of Ben and this win tonight; of course, that brings a lot of confidence, especially for the coaching staff."