New England duo happy to be back

Except for a brief alignment of the fates (and schedules), Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan have not featured much for the Revolution in July.

Whisked away by the United States national team on its path towards Gold Cup glory, the duo missed four matches. Noonan, with Clint Dempsey in tow, reappeared in the middle of his quest to help defeat Western Conference leaders FC Dallas on July 16 to trim his matches missed number to three.

"It was a good experience for me," said Noonan. "It was a long time to be away, and the games were physical, long games in hot weather. There was a good level of competition and it was good to win. We lost some guys along the way, but it was good to battle through it."

All battles come with a price. Ralston suffered a concussion. Noonan collided with goalkeeper Matt Reis in training and later rolled his ankle in a 2-1 U.S. victory against Honduras in last Thursday's semifinal. The injuries kept both out of the Revolution's 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night, and the ankle troubles will force Noonan to miss the MLS All-Star Game this weekend.

"It was hard," said Ralston. "None of the injuries [sustained by U.S. national team players] were chronic. Most came because of tackles."

"I rolled my ankle against Honduras," said Noonan. "It was very painful for the next couple of days. It's still sore."

Soreness and fatigue plague the pair. Matches in Seattle, Foxborough and New Jersey forced Ralston and Noonan to traverse the country.

"It was tough to play on the international level for a month straight," said Ralston. "I want to be [in Foxborough]. I want to help this team."

Ralston wants to continue the fight on multiple fronts, returning to the Revolution while pondering his national team future with the Aug. 17 qualifier looming against Trinidad & Tobago in Hartford, Conn.

"We didn't have a meeting [after the Gold Cup]," said Ralston. "[U.S. national team head coach] Bruce [Arena] said that he'd shoot us an e-mail or give us a call. I thought I had a decent tournament. I played lots of minutes. It was the first thing I've won as a professional.

"Nothing is set in stone. I hope I get called into the next camp. It is so competitive to get there and stay there. I have to be good in training."

While away on national team duty, Ralston kept New England on his mind. The veteran midfielder monitored his side over the internet by watching live game feeds.

"We followed the games on the computer," said Ralston. "The Chivas USA game was disappointing to watch. [Chivas USA] are getting better. If we had scored early, it would have been a totally different game."

Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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