7:30 pm ET (FSN-NE)
The New England Revolution are looking to recover the rich vein of success they experienced over the first half of the campaign before it was interrupted by a long stretch of absences to international duty and injury. Still tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference, they begin a three-game stretch of play outside the division with their first-ever meeting against Real Salt Lake. The expansion club comes east with a playoff spot in their first season still within reach, trailing the fourth-place Colorado Rapids by five points with 12 games to play (and with a match in hand).
REFEREE: Ricardo Valenzuela. SAR (bench): Tom Supple; JAR (opposite): Richard Eddy; 4th: Erich Simmons
MLS Career: 65 games; FC/gm: 34.3; Y/gm: 4.7; R: 28; pens: 22
Games involving Revolution: P11 W3 L8 T0; FC/gm: 37.4; Y/gm: 5.3; R: 5; pens: 2
Games involving Real: first game
INJURY REPORT: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (R ankle sprain) ... REAL SALT LAKE - PROBABLE: FW Jason Kreis (R foot sprain); DF Rustin Pierce (R hamstring strain); GK D.J. Countess (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: RSL: MF Clint Mathis (through Aug. 10)
WARNINGS: NE: Clint Dempsey (19 CP); Jay Heaps (10 CP in 2 gms) ... RSL: Jason Kreis (17 CP); Seth Trembly (19 CP)
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the first meeting all-time between the two clubs, and the only one scheduled this season for Gillette Stadium. They have one meeting set for Rice-Eccles Stadium, in just a little less than a month's time, on Sept. 3.
Coaches record: Steve Nicol vs. RSL: first game... John Ellinger v RSL: first game
ALL-TIME: first meeting
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution remain tied for first place in the Eastern Conference despite seeing a late goal give the Kansas City Wizards a 2-1 victory at Gillette Stadium last Saturday. The Revolution are level with the Chicago Fire on 36 points, with two matches in hand, as both teams are now just four points ahead of joint third-place D.C. United and Kansas City.
A tight match burst into life just after the halftime break as the Revolution and Wizards traded goals within a minute. Josh Wolff played a lovely ball over the New England defense for Chris Klein to run on to and he sent a composed finish home (47).
But barely a minute later Taylor Twellman curled in a cross from the right side of the area and Shalrie Joseph ran past the static defense to head home from close range.
Then 16 minutes from time the visitors hit for the go-ahead goal, Jose Burciaga finding Wolff who again played provider, this time splitting a pair of Revolution defenders to find the on-rushing Scott Sealy who made no mistake from inside the area.
"The first half, we played some great stuff. Unless you take your chances and when you're on top you take advantage of it, they're always liable to bite you," Revolution boss Steve Nicol said. "That's really what happened for us. We should have been ahead but we weren't. The ploy they used on the first goal was a ploy we've spoken about, and to be caught with it, it's not real good."
Nicol made two changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy in their last league match before the All-Star break. With Jay Heaps suspended, James Riley moved to the back three as Steve Ralston returned to the lineup after missing five matches through national team duty and concussion. Joe Franchino returned from suspension, preferred to Marshall Leonard on the left side of midfield.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - James Riley, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John - Steve Ralston, Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Joe Franchino (Marshall Leonard 78) - Jose Cancela (Khano Smith 71) - Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey.
"We can't be too disappointed. We had some great passing movements, we got the ball wide and we just couldn't get the finishing touch on things. We paid for it," Nicol said. "If you give a team like Kansas City a goal, it gives them heart. If we get ahead, it's a different ball game and they have to go out and get goals. We couldn't take advantage of the pressure we had. If you don't, what happened tonight is what happens to you."
TEAM NEWSFor James Riley, it was a first league start as part of the back three, after a number of appearances in a wide midfield role.
"I felt fine. It's my position to be honest in a three back or a four back. I'm lucky to get a shot. I could have done better with it. At this level, you make mistakes and they capitalize. Riley said. "I definitely continue to learn, it was a big learning curve tonight. We got caught twice tonight and we got punished."
While the Revolution were again able to count upon Steve Ralston, who recovered from concussion symptoms, Pat Noonan wasn't able to win his fitness fight in recovering from an ankle sprain.
"At the end of the day, we had the same result. It's a matter of us all being cohesive. We had a lot of guys back tonight and we didn't do our job," Twellman said. "A big part of that has been myself. Obviously, you can probably hear it in my voice, I'm under the weather. We need to get more chances. I've got to be a better option up front."
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake gained a measure of revenge for an earlier drubbing at the hands of their expansion brethren, coming back with two second-half goals to claim a 2-1 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Real remain in fifth place in the Western Conference with 19 points from 20 matches, now seven ahead of Chivas but still trailing the Colorado Rapids by five points for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Tempers flared between the expansion teams early on, a full-field fracas seeing Real's Clint Mathis and Esteban Arias of Chivas USA both sent off as a result after just 18 minutes.
Then seven minutes later Ramon Ramirez found Arturo Torres behind the Real defense with a long pass from the center circle, and he slid the ball under the sliding D.J. Countess to give Chivas the first-half lead.
But after the break, Andy Williams started to put his stamp on the game, and four minutes after the restart hit for the the 5,000th goal scored in MLS history. The league's all-time leading goal scorer, Jason Kreis, latched onto a loose ball and slid a pass to Williams, who blistered a low drive from the edge of the area that left Brad Guzan no chance.
Then 15 minutes from time Kreis gave RSL the winner from the penalty spot as Chris Brown was bundled over by a retreating defender as he raced into the box on the end of a long run.
Real head coach John Ellinger made two changes to the team that defeated FC Dallas 3-0 in the final game before the All-Star break, both coming in his back four. Eddie Pope returned from national team duty to make his first start in five matches while Rusty Pierce made just his second start since June 4 because of injury, as they came in for Chris Brown and Nelson Akwari respectively.
Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-3-2): D.J. Countess - Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Paul Broome - Kenny Cutler - Andy Williams (Jamie Watson 84), Clint Mathis, Seth Trembly (Brian Kamler 68) - Jordan Cila (Chris Brown 46), Jason Kreis
"[The scuffle] changed the game for us after that we were a little bit disoriented and frustrated and we lost all the rhythm we had up to that point in time," Ellinger said. "In the second half we had our focus back and played a lot better. We knew that in order to win the game and make a serious run at the playoffs we would have to score on the north goal which we haven't done all year."
TEAM NEWSIn the first half Williams had a number of looks at goal, but after the halftime break he really started to make them count. He fired 11 shots in all, four of which were on goal. And once he started to find the mark, it didn't take him long put one in the back of the net.
"I would give myself a B+, I had too many shots that were off target I need to keep my chances on goal and give the team more opportunities to score," he said.
And while the Jamaican international expressed no interest before the match in whether or not he would score the league's landmark goal, he was excited to be the first Real player to score in the north end of Rice-Eccles Stadium. After scoring the 5,000th goal for the equalizer, he immediately ran to the fan club section and took a "Lambeau leap" and as he celebrated with the fans he was draped in streamers.
"I made a promise to someone that I would score one in the north end," Williams said. "The Loyalists and the Jesters hadn't got to celebrate a goal on that end so I thought it was fitting."
It was the second time in their brief history Real had recorded back-to-back wins. The first time was May 14-18, when RSL followed a home win against the Los Angeles Galaxy with a win against ... Chivas USA.
"It is huge, going into the break getting a win against the best team in the league (3-0 vs. FC Dallas on July 23) and then to come out today and beat a team that is below us in the standings. That is the object of the game - to win games and make the playoffs," Mathis said.