The New England Revolution had never made the trek out to Seattle to play Sounders FC, but Shalrie Joseph made sure his club would remember its first visit.
Joseph's 21st-minute goal handed the Revolution a 1-0 victory over Seattle at Qwest Field on Thursday night. Sounders FC had their chances as Fredy Montero missed a 43rd-minute penalty and Nate Jaqua went close on multiple occasions, but Seattle couldn't find the equalizer and slumped to only its second MLS defeat at Qwest Field.
New England made one change to its lineup from the side that lost 2-1 to Los Angeles on Aug. 8. Sainey Nyassi returned on the right wing, allowing Steve Ralston to tuck in underneath Edgaras Jankauskas. Kheli Dube dropped to the bench. Assistant coach Paul Mariner once again managed the game from the sidelines with Steve Nicol serving the second game of a two-match ban in a Qwest Field suite.
Freddie Ljungberg missed his second consecutive match after experiencing disorientation and memory loss during Sounders FC's trip to Los Angeles for last Saturday's 2-0 victory against the Galaxy. Pete Vagenas continued to deputize in central midfield. With Tyrone Marshall suspended, Patrick Ianni came into central defense.
The Revolution started brightly as they sought to mitigate the impact of the 32,000 strong crowd at Qwest Field. Between the finally healthy starting XI and the endeavor to go forward when the opportunity presented itself, the Revs looked the better of the two sides in the opening stages.
Joseph consolidated that advantage by collecting his sixth goal of the season after 21 minutes. Jeff Larentowicz started the play by feeding Steve Ralston in midfield. Ralston played a one-two with Jankauskas before sliding through to Joseph. The hulking Revolution midfielder held off two Seattle defenders and poked home as he stumbled to the ground.
Seattle, as expected, pushed forward earnestly as they tried to respond to a rare early goal from the visitors. Revolution defender Kevin Alston cleared off the line twice before halftime, while Jaqua somehow missed the target completely after Gonalez's pullback gave him an inviting opportunity from inside 10 yards.
New England continued to press forward and create chances as well. Alston's deep cross from the right side required Jhon Kennedy Hurtado's diving intervention to keep Ralston and Jankauskas from doubling the lead, while Joseph sent a far post header from a Kenny Mansally corner kick just over the bar.
Seattle spurned a golden chance to equalize when Montero missed from the spot in the 44th minute. Ralston kicked out for the ball, but hit Montero as he surged past him. Referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot, but Montero fired his effort off the underside of the crossbar.
New England lost Mariner just before the break after he was sent off, placing goalkeeper coach Gwynne Williams in charge as the match entered the second stanza.
Though the first half entertained with its penalty shouts and chances down both ends of the park, neither side reached the heights they had in the opening 45 minutes.
New England looked content to sit in and soak up pressure, occasionally breaking when handed the opportunity. Above all else, the Revolution stayed compact and organized as they tried to hold out to notch their third road win of the season.
That placed the onus on Seattle to break the Revolution down and they lacked the invention to do so without Ljungberg. With the Revolution defiant and Sounders FC struggling to get anything from the wide areas, they were left to conjure up the odd chance. Jaqua blew a header over the bar, while Emmanuel Osei deftly cut out Gonzalez's cross to three waiting Sounders in the middle.
In the end, the Revs marked their first trip out to Seattle with a victory and left Seattle with only their second loss at Qwest Field.
Both teams return to action in just three days' time, with the Revolution returning home to face Real Salt Lake at Gillette Stadium, and Sounders FC traveling to Houston to take on the Western Conference-leading Dynamo.
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com.