Rapids, Revolution stonewall each other
Missing U.S. national team starters Clint Dempsey and Steve Ralston, the New England Revolution remained unbeaten on the season but lacked the necessary invention to break down a stalwart Colorado Rapids defense in a scoreless draw Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
It was a well-earned point for the visitors, who actually came closest to breaking the deadlock. Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis pushed Kyle Beckerman's drive onto the bar in the 48th minute. The Rapids then survived the final 10 minutes a man down after Guy Melamed was sent off for a pair of bookable offenses.
The home side maintained possession in the offensive half for most of the contest, but the Rapids' reconstituted defense held firm. The offensive edge was blunted by the failure, aside from Pat Noonan, to run at defenders while forcing the ball down the congested center of the pitch.
Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo handed a start to former Revolution forward Wolde Harris as he fielded a defensive-minded 4-4-2 from the outset. But it was clear in the opening 20 minutes that the Revolution missed the brazen running of Dempsey, as they struggled to unlock a resolute Colorado backline.
The Rapids picked up a pair of early bookings as they sought to set an early physical tone. Mike Petke earned a booking for a foul on Shalrie Joseph in the 13th minute, while Melamed was booked for a harsh challenge on Joseph at midfield on 19 minutes.
For their part, the visitors were content to sit back and soak up Revolution possession in their own half, not wishing to adventure forward in numbers.
Noonan provided the flair for the Revs in the 26th minute, twisting through the Colorado defense to fire a deflected effort just wide of Joe Cannon's right post. The near-miss sparked the Revs, and a minute later they were close again, but Nat Borchers crucially intervened as James Riley found a surging Andy Dorman moving towards goal.
Colorado was stunned into their best offensive foray of the half in the 37th minute. Good vision from Wolde Harris found a streaking Matt Crawford down the right hand wing. His attempt on goal was deflected out for a corner by a sliding Avery John.
Taylor Twellman worked his way into the match with a half chance on 42 minutes, although his effort was denied by Cannon. A sweeping longball from Parkhurst found Riley on the right side, and the incisive through pass from Riley to Twellman forced the striker into a difficult angle.
Against the run of play, Colorado nearly opened the scoring in the 48th minute. The running of Cunningham opened space, and his pass found an open Beckerman. His rasping drive was pushed onto the cross bar by the left hand of Reis and nearly rebounded off the 'keeper's back and into the open net.
Colorado found a bit of impetus after the near miss, and Harris came close with a well-struck left footed volley that flew just past Reis' left hand post in the 58th minute.
Recently on to the pitch, substitute Joe Franchino made an instant impact in the 63rd with a telling through ball to Twellman, who did well to turn his defender but failed to finish. Cannon did not hold on to the rebound, allowing Noonan a chance to shoot at goal before Cannon reacted to save at his feet.
Melamed picked up his walking papers in the 80th minute for his second yellow card. The Israeli rookie made it easy on referee Jones, as he piled through the back of Dorman with a reckless sliding challenge.
But despite the advantage, the Revolution did not seriously threaten Cannon's goal in the closing stages, with Khano Smith hitting a shot directly at the former Earthquakes 'keeper in the 88th minute and Noonan lofting a cross that Twellman ballooned over the net in stoppage time.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Matt Reis (New England Revolution)
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Colorado Rapids (2-7-1) vs. New England Revolution (6-0-2)
May 28, 2005 -- Gillette Stadium
Scoring Summary: NONE
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Ritchie Kotschau, Nat Borchers, Eric Denton, Mike Petke, Ricky Lewis, Matt Crawford (Hunter Freeman 78), Kyle Beckerman, Guy Melamed, Jeff Cunningham (Alain Nkong 89), Wolde Harris (Leo Cullen 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Byron Foss, Sasha Gotsmanov.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Wolde Harris 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 15 (Wolde Harris 4); OFFSIDES: 5 (Eric Denton 2, Wolde Harris 2); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Matt Crawford 2, Eric Denton 2); SAVES: 7 (Joe Cannon 7)
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John, James Riley (Ryan Latham 79), Jose Cancela (Joe Franchino 61), Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (Khano Smith 61), Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan.
Substitutes Not Used: Felix Brillant, Cassio, Jamie Holmes, Doug Warren.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Khano Smith 3, Taylor Twellman 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Taylor Twellman 2); FOULS: 11 (Avery John 2, Shalrie Joseph 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Marshall Leonard 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Jose Cancela 4); SAVES: 3 (Matt Reis 3)
COL -- Mike Petke (caution; Reckless Foul) 13
COL -- Guy Melamed (caution; Reckless Foul) 19
NE -- Avery John (caution; Dissent) 76
COL -- Guy Melamed (ejection; Second Caution) 79
Referee: Ben Jones
Referee's Assistants: -Craig Lowry; Chip Reed
4th Official: Gus St. Silva
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.