NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION v LOS ANGELES GALAXY
GILLETTE STADIUM, Foxborough, Mass.
4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
May 6, 2006 (WEEK #6) / MLS Game #29
The 2005 MLS Cup Finalists meet for the second time on the season thus far - the only times in league competition they'll play this year. They've gone in opposite directions since the 1-0 New England Revolution to open the campaign - the Revolution haven't won since, and have scored just two more goals while dropping their last two games. The Galaxy are just .500 on the campaign, but managed a victory last week in only game this year outside of California.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Adam Wienckowski; 4th: Oscar Ortiz
MLS Career: 43 games; FC/gm: 32.1; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 11; pens: 17
MLS 2006: 1 game; FC/gm: 33.0 (avg: 31.9); Y/gm: 2.0 (avg: 3.96); R: 0 (MLS: 6); pens: 0 (MLS: 3)
Games involving Revolution: P7 W2 L5 T0; FC/gm: 34.1; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 1; pens: 4
Games involving Galaxy: P7 W4 L2 T1; FC/gm: 32.9; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: MF Khano Smith (L knee surgery); MF Jani Galik (R hamstring strain); DF Marshall Leonard (L Achilles tendon rupture); MF Ryan Latham (abdominal strain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Doug Warren (abdominal strain); MF Steve Ralston (L groin strain); FW Pat Noonan (R hamstring strain); DF Joe Franchino (R hamstring strain) ... LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: FW Cornell Glen (L hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Peter Vagenas (concussion); QUESTIONABLE: DF Ben Benditson (sports hernia); DF Tyrone Marshall (L MCL sprain); FW Alan Gordon (sports hernia)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD This is the second of two league meetings this season for the 2005 MLS Cup Finalists, both of them occurring in little more than the opening month of the season.
The two clubs have exactly split their league season series each of the last five years. Three of those years they've met just twice - and each team has won once. In 2003 they met three times, with each club claiming one victory with the third meeting drawn.
Coaches record: Steve Nicol v LA: P10 W4 L3 D3 ... Steve Sampson vs. NE: P3 W0 L1 D2
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): Revolution 8 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals ... Galaxy 12 wins (2 shootout), 43 goals ... 4 draws
AT FOXBOROUGH: (11 meetings): Revolution 6 wins (1 shootout), 19 goals ... Galaxy 4 win (2 shootout), 20 goals ... 1 draw
LAST MEETING The Revolution gained a small measure of revenge, defeating the Galaxy in a rematch of MLS Cup 2005. It was a night full of emotion in Carson. The Galaxy first remembered Doug Hamilton, the club's president and general manager, who passed away during the preseason. They then received their championship rings from last November's triumph against the Revolution.
But unlike that result, to open the '06 season it was New England who hit for the game's only goal, Clint Dempsey sliding in to head home an Andy Dorman free kick from the left edge of the penalty area in the 33rd minute.
Here's Steve Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Nathan Sturgis (Ednaldo da Conceicao 71) - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa (Paulo Nagamura 57), Peter Vagenas, Josh Gardner (Ned Grabavoy 62) - Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez (Substitutes Not Used: Steve Cronin, Brian Dunseth, Michael Enfield, Troy Roberts)
Here's Steve Nicol's team (3-4-3): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Daniel Hernandez, James Riley (Kyle Brown 83) - Steve Ralston, Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Joe Franchino - Clint Dempsey, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan (Substitutes Not Used: Jose Cancela, Avery John, Marshall Leonard, Tony Lochhead, Willie Sims, Doug Warren)
It was just the Revolution's second win in southern California, the first since a 1-0 victory on July 4, 1996 - the league's inaugural season. Since then, the Galaxy had won eight of their home meetings with the Revolution with three draws until the First Kick victory this year.
4/1: LA 0, NE 1 (Dempsey 33)
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION The Fire ensured they would not go on their long road trip to begin the 2006 season without a victory, while the Revolution lost for the second consecutive match and saw their winless run extended to three games, having still scored just two goals on the year.
The goals all came in a 14-minute span after the break. Andy Dorman put in a pinpoint curling cross from the right flank and Taylor Twellman headed home from inside the goal area for his first goal of 2006, giving the Revolution the 54th-minute lead with their first goal from open play this season.
Chicago equalized through a sublime offensive movement in the 64th minute. Logan Pause's ball over the top was perfectly weighted for Thiago and the Fire playmaker tapped the ball around a jumping Michael Parkhurst and smashed an effort into the upper-right hand corner past Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis.
The Fire scored the winner four minutes later through Chris Rolfe. Reis and defender Jay Heaps flapped at Chad Barrett's cross, with the rebound off Reis's hands falling invitingly to Rolfe, who made no mistake from 10 yards.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made two changes to the team that suffered its first loss of the year, 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards the weekend before at Arrowhead Stadium. Tony Lochhead made his first MLS start, coming in for Joe Franchino, while Jose Cancela also made his first start of 2006, replacing the injured Pat Noonan in the team.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, James Riley - Andy Dorman, Daniel Hernandez, Shalrie Joseph, Tony Lochhead (Willie Sims 77) - Jose Cancela - Clint Dempsey, Taylor Twellman. [Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Brown, Leandro de Oliveira, Pat Haggerty, Avery John, Jeff Larentowicz, T.J. Tomasso]
" There was maybe some mental lapses, but I don't think there was a physical letdown," said Revolution assistant coach Paul Mariner. "It wasn't our best day as far as passing the ball; the field was a little slow for us. That said, it was slow for them. It's rare for Michael [Parkhurst] to miss a ball like that, and Thiago took his goal very well. The second goal was very sloppy."
The New England saw their winless streak extended to three matches since winning their season opener, falling in their first home encounter of the season, 2-1 to the Chicago Fire. The Revolution are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with four points from four games, level with the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew, all eight points behind the Kansas City Wizards.
TEAM NEWS While Taylor Twellman opened his 2006 account with his second-half header, Mariner said he felt he should have had more goals.
''I think he's probably disappointed with himself," Mariner said to The Boston Globe. ''He thought he could have had a couple shots early on. I spoke to him about it at halftime and he said the ball got stuck under his feet a couple times. But he did what he had to do. I thought he scored a tremendous goal. Dorman struck a great ball at the back and he had a very powerful header to beat Zach. I would think he'd be reasonably happy with his performance."
Mariner also said his team was frustrated by the Fire's tactical approach. ''Chicago had a game plan, they hoped to hit us on the break. I would guess they came here for a point and got three. That's the way we read it," he said.
The Revolution have still hit for only three goals on the season - even with a new attacking scheme designed to get more chances for their three front-runners. It's also caused some pressure on the defending.
''It is disappointing because we gave up two soft goals," Shalrie Joseph said. ''We need to communicate better and defend as a team better. The field was dry and we struggled with our passing, but we are not happy with the chances we are creating. We need to do better getting the ball into the box for Clint and Taylor."
Tony Lochhead made his first MLS appearance and first start against the Fire. The New Zealand international had been away with his national team playing in Chile and returned to New England on Saturday.
Nicol left immediately after the match to catch a flight to England to play in a charity game, matching the 1986 Liverpool and Everton team at Anfield Stadium. Nicol was a defensive stalwart for the '86 Liverpool team that won both the FA Cup and league championship.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY Landon Donovan took over the game as the Galaxy won in their first match of the season outside of southern California, keeping Real winless on the campaign as their MLS-record streak was extended.
The home side got off to a dream start, a long ball from Carey Talley masterfully dummied by Jeff Cunningham, allowing Andy Williams to drive a low cross across the face of goal where Jason Kreis stormed in at the back post to slide in and knock it home for his MLS-best 102nd career goal (6).
But just five minutes later Donovan pulled the Galaxy level, dispossessing Eddie Pope at the top of the Real penalty area and racing around his U.S. international teammate to collect the ball before firing past Scott Garlick inside the far post.
Then in the 26th minute the Galaxy pulled ahead, Donovan swinging a pass out to the right flank where Chris Albright whipped a cross into the goal area, Cobi Jones steaming in to dive and head home from close range.
On the hour, the Galaxy increased their lead when Donovan split the Real defense with a perfect through ball from just inside the center circle, Herculez Gomez getting onto the end of it and slotting the ball home for his first goal of the campaign.
Real pulled a goal back with 16 minutes left when Kreis drove a low centering pass to the near post for Atiba Harris to nip in and knock the ball home, but Real just couldn't find the equalizer, the job made all but impossible when Kreis was sent off in the 87th minute after receiving two bookings in four minutes.
Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 in stoppage time to the Columbus Crew the weekend before at home. Steve Cronin made his first start of the season, coming in between the posts for Kevin Hartman. Kyle Veris also made his first MLS start, coming into central defense for Troy Roberts. Herculez Gomez also returned to the starting lineup along with Marcelo Saragosa, replacing Cobi Jones and Ned Grabavoy.
Here's Sampson's team (4-1-4-1): Steve Cronin - Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Kyle Veris, Todd Dunivant - Peter Vagenas (Cobi Jones 10) - Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan, Marcelo Saragosa, Paulo Nagamura - Cornell Glen (Ned Grabavoy 41 / Marc Burch 80). [Substitutes Not Used: Brian Dunseth, Michael Enfield, Kevin Hartman, Nathan Sturgis]
"I think we improved; we're still far from where we need to be, but I think we improved. I think [Steve] Cronin played quite well today. This is his first league win. Kyle Veris, his debut, played well in the back, so the young players who had to play well did," Sampson said. "I thought they're now finding Landon a lot easier now; they guys are giving him the ball in more dangerous situations, and I thought that we have had trouble closing out games, and to close out and win it was positive."
The Los Angeles Galaxy left southern California for the first time in 2006 and came away with a come-from-behind win, 3-2 against Real Salt Lake. The Galaxy are in third place in the Western Conference with seven points from five games, two points behind second-place Houston Dynamo and four adrift of pace-setting FC Dallas.
TEAM NEWS As expected, the post-match talk centered on Donovan - seemingly rounding into form at the perfect time at the World Cup approaches.
"[Landon] settles us and he finds the right options," said Sampson. "Today I think he playmaked better than I've seen him in a long time and was very, very dangerous towards goal at the same time. I think Landon played a very complete game. Today was his most complete game of all the games he has played to date - this year. If he's not scoring goals, he's making final passes."
Sampson said he is truly the icon of the league. "Every single time that he comes to town, people should take advantage of it," said Sampson. "Soccer players should come just to watch him because they can learn a lot from him."
Donovan also victimized long-time international standout Eddie Pope for the Galaxy opener.
"I kind of took a chance. I saw the ball was bouncing to Eddie and thought that I could make the extra run. You never know how the ball is going to bounce on this turf, so I ran at him and stuck my foot in there," Donovan said. "Most of the time the ball is going to either bounce back to the goalie or bound off, but I was lucky and the ball stayed right with me. When you get a chance like that, you better finish."
Donovan continued his hot streak at Rice-Eccles. He had a goal and an assist in each of the two Los Angeles Galaxy visits to Salt Lake City last year, and hit for a goal and an assist for the U.S. national team in their match against Costa Rica.
"I don't know what it is about this place, a little luck I guess," Donovan said. "It's fun to play here. It's really a great place to play and I have been fortunate to play well."