Eastern top dogs meet in Chicago

his first miss from the spot in MLS after going 6-for-6 a year ago.

  • Sarachan made no changes to the team that defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 with a last-gasp goal the weekend before in the home opener. Here's Sarachan's team (3-4-2-1): Zach Thornton - C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Samuel Caballero - Kelly Gray, Chris Armas (Logan Pause 59), Jesse Marsch, Ivan Guerrero - Thiago, Justin Mapp (Chad Barrett 65) - Nate Jaqua
    TEAM NEWS
  • Jaqua did open his goalscoring account for the season with the lone goal against the MetroStars. Originally he was given credit for the Fire's first goal April 16 v San Jose, but the ball was headed past Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad by defender Craig Waibel. "He was outstanding," Sarachan continued. "Not just because he got the goal, but the battling, keeping balls alive, getting on the end of things, his work rate - I thought he was pretty much our man of the match."
  • The Fire held the MetroStars to just three shots on goal for the match - all from former French international Youri Djorkaeff - and just one over the final half-hour. "I thought our overall defense was very good," said Sarachan. "The turf can be tricky, but our shape and my guys being tuned in to play together was pretty good over 90 minutes. They were down a goal, and we know that they were going to make a push at the end. We probably dropped off a bit, and allowed them a few chances, but the defense played pretty well."
  • Injured striker Andy Herron played 69 minutes for the Fire reserves in their scoreless draw with the MetroStars reserves on Saturday and came through fine, meaning he will be available this week.
  • Will John scored a goal for the U.S. under-20 national team in their 4-1 victory against USL First Division (second tier) side Seattle Sounders. John played the entire match in midfield, while Fire teammate Chad Barrett - who set three of the four U.S. goals - played the entire match up top.
    STATISTICS
  • The Fire's victory at Giants Stadium was their first victory on the road in nearly a year - since a 1-0 victory at D.C. United on April 24, 2004, a span of 363 days and 14 league games. The Fire haven't won back-to-back games on their travels since the 2002 campaign, on May 4 (3-0 v United) and May 19 (3-1 v New England). "It's been a year? Since we won on the road? That's insane," Sarachan said.

    NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

    The New England Revolution remained unbeaten on the season, as they and D.C. United nearly reprised the drama of a year ago with the Revolution jumping out to a three-goal lead before holding on for a 4-3 win at RFK Stadium. The Revolution have seven points from their three games, level with the Fire (with a match in hand) and a point ahead of the Columbus Crew.

    LAST MATCH

  • At RFK Stadium, United and the Revolution met for the first time since their epic Eastern Conference Final of a year ago - and this meeting nearly rivaled it.
  • The visitors scored three times in a six-minute burst midway through the first half. Taylor Twellman escaped his marker in the heart of the area to turn home a rolling cross from Clint Dempsey (26), then after Twellman was adjudged to have pulled down by Bobby Boswell while challenging for a high ball, Shalrie Joseph converted a highly contested penalty (28). The Revs added another three minutes later on a cool angled strike from Marshall Leonard - his first in MLS - after a rampaging run through the United team from the opposite wingback, James Riley.
  • But United pulled a goal back just before the end of the half, Jaime Moreno converting from the spot after Riley was adjudged to have bundled over substitute Santino Quaranta. After the break, the home side pulled back to within one, Quaranta turning home a Steve Guppy cross at the near post (57).
  • Yet Clint Dempsey again nosed the Revs two in front through a diving header off a freekick swung in from the right -- which he then celebrated by running to the location of home plate for the Washington Nationals and mimicking hitting one out of the park. Moreno converted his second penalty of the game and the third on the night eight minutes from the end when Leonard was ruled to have handled the ball, but that was all the response United could muster.
  • "We came out sluggish but we got ourselves in the game," said Revolution coach Steve Nicol. "... Obviously, we made some chances, the guys upfront did well. The middle made good opportunities for them. Scoring four away from home is not a bad day's work."
  • Nicol was forced into two changes from the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 3-0 the week before at home. Joe Franchino suffered a thigh strain, so Avery John came in on the left of the back three. Steve Ralston developed viral bronchitis during the week and did not make the trip, so Marshall Leonard came into the team in the wide left role.
  • Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John - James Riley, Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard - Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 66) - Pat Noonan, Taylor Twellman
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  • The Revolution were especially pleased with their performance given the absence of two very key players - Ralston and Franchino - through injury. "I think our movement [as a team] was good, from the midfield up to the top," said Twellman. "We did that well in the first half, but the last five minutes of the first half and into the second half, they put our defense under pressure ... but we only gave up one goal not including the penalty kicks. Anytime you can get a win here, you'll take it."
  • The Revolution have won two of their first three games for the first time in club history, obviously their best-ever start to a season. "Nobody knows better than us that it's a long season and a lot can happen," Twellman said. "We have started slow and finished strong the last three years but ...(w)e wanted to start strong and keep an even keel, keep plugging away and stay compact, and not have to win the last 10 games like in the past."
  • "To get four goals on the road is obviously very good. We were holding on at the end of the game, but we'll take it," said Nicol. "I have no idea whether we're playing better than everybody else [in MLS], but we're just trying to do what we want to do and win some games."
  • Dempsey was named the Honda MLS Player of the Week for his performance, scoring the eventual game-winner while also credited with an assist on the Revolution's opening goal. The Revs have also scored nine goals in their first three games - the best attacking record in the league.
  • Ralston is not expected to make the trip to Chicago either, meaning James Riley and Marshall Leonard could again fill the wide midfield roles. Nicol had praise for Riley in the United match. "[English veteran Steve] Guppy's advantage was sheer experience, but overall [Riley] came out on top," Nicol said to The Boston Globe. "There is no better way to get experience than to play in games.


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