Tale of two halves for Revolution
After his team's 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium, New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol wasn't sure how to react.
"When you get a point away from home, you should be relatively happy," said Nicol, after his team came back from an early 2-0 deficit to scrape the road point. "But after all the chances we had to take the three points, we're slightly disappointed."
Judging from the way New England was being pushed around the field for the first 30 minutes, a point might have been the furthest thing from the Revs' minds.
"If you had told me at halftime that we were going to get one point, I would have been happy," said New England midfielder Steve Ralston. "In the first 20 minutes, they put us under a lot of pressure. We didn't give our forwards too many quality balls.
"But you can't sustain that kind of pressure for 90 minutes."
The Revs were able to withstand the early onslaught, yielding goals by Brian Ching (13th minute) and Ronald Cerritos (a 21st-minute penalty kick) to fall into an early 2-0 hole. But a promising stretch late in the first half led to a second-half revival, as the Revs were able to wear the Quakes down.
"We started passing the ball to each other," said Nicol. "It's a real simple game when you do that."
New England found success by playing long balls directly through the center of the field, taking advantage of communication mistakes by the Earthquakes defense. On the first Revolution goal, scored in the 52nd minute, forward Pat Noonan was able to beat an offside trap and beat San Jose goalkeeper Pat Onstad on a breakaway.
Then, following two excellent opportunities from Taylor Twellman in which he was denied on a breakaway by Onstad and then pounded a close-range blast off the crossbar in a matter of two minutes, Twellman took advantage of yet another Earthquakes mistake for the equalizer.
Always flashing the goalscorer's instinct, Twellman pulled down a long ball from second-half substitute James Riley and beat center back Troy Dayak and Onstad with one touch before rolling the ball into an empty net.
"You're going to hit the crossbar sometimes and the goalkeeper is going to make good saves sometimes," said Twellman. "I just needed to keep working hard and creating chances."
For Ralston, the second-half comeback was simply a case of working harder than the opposition.
"We can't come out like that next week -- they were winning all the second balls and the 50-50 balls and came at us early," said Ralston. "We were able to come out better in the second half."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.