CARSON, Calif. – When the New England Revolution traveled to southern California to face Los Angeles in the season opener on Sunday night, they did so looking to make a statement of intent.
By holding off the dreary conditions and the sustained Galaxy pressure to collect a 1-1 draw, the Revs believe they revealed a little about themselves and what they hope to accomplish during this campaign.
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“Let's face it, we were really disappointed with the last two games we had during preseason,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “But the character was tremendous [on Sunday]. Everybody stood strong and we got what we deserved.”
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph led by example when he handed his side a surprising lead after just three minutes. Marko Perovic supplied the correct service from the right side after the Galaxy failed to properly clear his corner kick, and Joseph climbed highest at the back post to nod home the tempting cross.
“It was all about the ball,” Joseph said. “It fell back to Marko and he put it into a great area. All I had to do was steer it in. Leonardo was on me tight, but it was such a great ball that all I had to do was get open and find the back of the net.”
The early tally gave the Revs an important boost of confidence to push them forward in the contest, according to Nicol.
[inline_node:331525]“Getting the goal, obviously, it's huge for us,” Nicol said. “But again, it was a good goal. It was a great ball in and a great header down. It was ideal.”
LA's inevitable response caused the Revs problems by forcing them back into their defensive third for much of the first half. Juninho ensured the Galaxy transferred their dominance to the score sheet by lashing home from just outside the penalty area six minutes before halftime.
Although the Galaxy enjoyed the better of play in the first half, the Revs adjusted their shape after halftime and pushed a bit higher up the field in the second stanza. The switch restricted LA's space and time on the ball and permitted the Revs to dig in defensively to see their way through the second half a bit more comfortably.
“In those conditions and in this hostile environment, you're going to have to grind it out,” Revolution forward Zack Schilawski said. “There will be some times where you don't have the ball and you're going to have to make some tackles and make those little plays. I think it made the difference for us tonight.”
While Joseph could have sent the Revs home with all three points with his 65th-minute drive off the post, the visitors departed the Home Depot Center on a positive note after seeing out the remainder of the contest to seal a point against the current Supporters' Shield holders.
“They're a good team,” Joseph said. “They pass the ball well, they create chances and they get a lot of service into the box. We were solid tonight. We gave up some chances here and there, but, at the end of the day, we'll take it.”