The New England Revolution emerged from a five game winless streak in emphatic fashion on Saturday night, thrashing Western Conference leaders Colorado Rapids 6-1 at Gillette Stadium. Steve Ralston, Pat Noonan, and Taylor Twellman each had a double for the home side, as Steve Nicol's charges overwhelmed the visitors in their attempt to again make a late-season playoff push.
It was a club record goal output for the Revolution against a team that came into the match sporting the best defensive record in the league this season, having allowed just 23 goals in 26 matches before they were shredded by the Revolution.
Jean-Philippe Peguero gave the Rapids an ideal start after 17 minutes, after Chris Henderson curled a cultured ball over the top of the flat Revolution defense. The Haitian international jostled with Marshall Leonard, sending the Revolution back to the ground. As Leonard protested, Peguero dribbled around Reis and calmly tucked the ball into the net.
The Revolution nearly engineered an instant reply. Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon flailed at a ball into the box, and the remnants fell to Pat Noonan. His cross was cleared only to the edge of the area by Matt Crawford, and Shalrie Joseph's shot was cleared off the line by Nat Borchers.
Peguero nearly had his second on 23 minutes thanks to defensive miscommunication on the Revolution backline. A long punt by Cannon confused Rusty Pierce, allowing Peguero to head over the onrushing Reis. The header was pushed just wide of the gaping net.
The close chance seemed to jolt the Revolution of their stupor, and Twellman went close with a diving header two minutes later. Only a smart save from Cannon denied the Revolution their opener.
Ralston then leveled the proceedings just a minute later with persistence and a batch of shoddy marking from the Rapids defense. Richie Baker played the ball into the path of Ralston, who hit a shot off Cannon's far post. As three Rapids watched the ball ricochet off the far post, Ralston grabbed the rebound and deposited it into the side netting.
A minute later, the Revolution gained the lead. Twellman sliced across the top of the box. With the Rapids defenders allowing time and space, Twellman lashed a low shot past the helpless Cannon for his seventh goal of the campaign.
With momentum clearly shifted in the direction of the home team, a questionable penalty decision added a third to the Revolution's ever-increasing tally. Noonan attempted the cross the ball, and Pablo Mastroeni caught it with a stray hand as he turned. Ralston sent Cannon the wrong way for his second of the match, and the Revolution were now firmly in command.
Cannon denied Twellman from a sharp angle on 39 minutes, but he could not halt the Revolution's fourth goal in the half a minute later. After skipping down the left touchline to the byeline, Ralston pulled a low cross back to the spot that found an unmarked Noonan, and his one-touch finish put the Revs three goals ahead at the break.
If the Rapids held any thoughts of crawling back into the match, Noonan snuffed out any thoughts by adding the fifth goal in the 50th minute. It was a well-worked finish, with a Brian Kamler cross finding Noonan in the box. The Indiana product picked it out of the air with his left boot, smashing his volley through Cannon.
The Revolution then finished the scoring in the 71st minute with Twellman's second of the match. Substitute Felix Brilliant, who entered the game only seconds earlier, beat Ricky Lewis down the left flank, and played a ball across to the waiting Twellman. Twellman's low shot to the near corner beat Cannon and finished his double and capped the record-setting night, also pulling the Revolution back within reach of a playoff spot for the moment.
The Revolution travel to Chicago to face the Fire in a massive match in the Eastern Conference next Saturday (9 p.m. ET), while the Rapids stay on the road, taking on the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday in a hugely important match at the top of the West (8:30 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)
Colorado Rapids (10-8-9) vs. New England Revolution (6-11-9)
September 18, 2004 -- Gillette Stadium
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero 6 (Chris Henderson 5) 17
NE -- Steve Ralston 4 (Richie Baker 6) 27
NE -- Taylor Twellman 7 (unassisted) 28
NE -- Steve Ralston 5 (penalty kick) 36
NE -- Pat Noonan 10 (Steve Ralston 8) 41
NE -- Pat Noonan 11 (Brian Kamler 2) 50
NE -- Taylor Twellman 8 (Felix Brillant 2) 71
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Antonio de la Torre (Ricky Lewis 64), Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford, Chris Henderson, Jordan Cila, Pablo Mastroeni (Kyle Beckerman 50), Mark Chung, Jean Philippe Peguero, John Spencer (Alberto Delgado 74).
Substitutes Not Used: Seth Trembly, Scott Vallow.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Jean Philippe Peguero 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Jean Philippe Peguero 2); FOULS: 12 (Pablo Mastroeni 3, Jean Philippe Peguero 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Chris Henderson 2, Jean Philippe Peguero 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Matt Crawford 1, Antonio de la Torre 1); SAVES: 7 (Joe Cannon 7)
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Jay Heaps, Rusty Pierce, Marshall Leonard, Clint Dempsey (Jose Cancela 66), Steve Ralston, Richie Baker, Shalrie Joseph (Andy Dorman 89), Brian Kamler, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan (Felix Brillant 70).
Substitutes Not Used: Perek Belleh, Andrew Terris, Bobby Thompson, Luke Vercollone.
TOTAL SHOTS: 22 (Taylor Twellman 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 13 (Taylor Twellman 5); FOULS: 9 (Richie Baker 2, Marshall Leonard 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (Taylor Twellman 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Richie Baker 3, Jose Cancela 3); SAVES: 2 (Matt Reis 2)
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero (caution; Pushing, Holding) 54
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -Craig Lowry; Kenneth Kaplan
4th Official: Niko Bratsis
Time of Game: 2:02
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.