CHESTER, Pa. — New England Revolution defender A.J. Soares attributed his first MLS goal to a piece of timely advice from central defensive partner Ryan Cochrane.
Soares (above right) said he made the run to notch the opening goal of the match – a near-post header from a Chris Tierney free kick – in Wednesday night's 4-4 draw against Philadelphia at Cochrane's behest.
“Full credit to Ryan,” Soares told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “He set me up on the play. He called me and said do this run, I'll set you up. Chris put the perfect ball in and I just ran into it. I closed my eyes and it went in. Then I went down and planked.”
Several of Soares' teammates joined him on the ground in celebration, but the rookie defender said he would have gladly swapped his tally for all three points at the end of the night.
“It's cool, but I'd rather win than score, obviously,” Soares said. "I'd trade it for a win.”
Narrow decision falls Caraglio's way
Revolution coach Steve Nicol wanted to insert Pat Phelan into the match with a half-hour remaining to increase his numbers in midfield and protect a two-goal lead.
Nicol's corresponding decision to shift to a 4-5-1 formation to solidify the defensive shape after Freddy Adu's early second-half goal meant that one of the two strikers – Milton Caraglio or Rajko Lekic – needed to come off the field.
In terms of pure production, Lekic stood out as the likely choice to stay on the field based upon his productivity on the evening. The Danish striker drew and tucked away a penalty kick and provided Benny Feilhaber with the feed for the fourth and final Revolution goal in the first half.
Although Caraglio struggled for much of the evening in comparison to his strike partner, Nicol opted to stick with the more robust Argentine up front to tussle with Philadelphia center backs Danny Califf and Carlos Valdés.
“To be honest, it was a toss of the coin,” Nicol said. “Milton had looked real strong. He was getting a lot of stick – both he and Rajko in the first half, we felt they were being unfairly fouled every time they went for the ball. We thought Milton had that extra little bit of strength holding it up.”
Phelan pulled after scary collision
Phelan eventually ended the match on the sidelines and reduced his team to 10 men after colliding with Califf with four minutes to play in normal time.
The stalwart central midfielder appeared to be knocked out by a errant knee to his jaw and spent several minutes on the ground receiving medical attention after the incident.
Despite stating his desire to return to the match after walking off the field under his own power, Phelan – a player who has battled concussion issues over the past couple of seasons – eventually conceded defeat after Nicol and head athletic trainer Sean Kupiec made it clear that he would not feature again in the match.
“No surprise that Pat came off and said he was OK, but his legs were out for a couple of minutes and then he said he's OK,” Nicol said. “There wasn't any way that we were taking a chance on something happening to Pat over a game of football. That's the bottom line.”
In order to compensate for Phelan's absence and the corresponding reduction to 10 men with all three substitutions used earlier in the match, Nicol revamped his defensive shape in the waning stages of the contest.
“We had to go four and four, plus get Milton to come a little bit deeper,” Nicol said. “We were just trying to be solid.”