FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Cruzeiro forward Wellington Paulista was the star on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, scoring three times to lead the visiting Brazilian club to a 3-0 win over the New England Revolution in an international friendly. The match was marred by a dramatic injury to Steve Ralston, seconds after he took the field for the first time since rejoining the Revs.
Ralston, who re-signed with the Revs last week, entered the match in the 72nd minute to a standing ovation, but he was replaced just two minutes later after falling in the box and suffering a dislocated left elbow. Teammate Khano Smith also came out of the game after suffering a sprained ankle on 30 minutes.
"I think [bad luck is] the only kind of luck going for us at the moment, ain’t it?," asked Revs manager Steve Nicol. "Steve Ralston has dislocated his elbow and Khano Smith has done his ankle. Not exactly what we’re looking for."
Cruzeiro scored what proved to be the game-winner in the 24th minute through Paulista, who then added additional strikes after the halftime break in the 49th and 83rd minutes to round out the scoring. Jonathan, Roger and Thiago Ribeiro each provided an assist, with Ribeiro looking particularly dangerous throughout the match.
Despite the identical score line, the Revolution’s performance against Cruzeiro was much improved from the one put forth last weekend in a 3-0 loss to Seattle.
Ralston’s injury overshadowed another return for the Revolution, as goalkeeper Matt Reis made his first appearance of 2010 after recovering from offseason shoulder and knee surgeries. Reis made two saves and allowed one goal before being replaced by Bobby Shuttleworth at halftime.
"Matt brings another dimension to our team in terms of leadership and communications by having him in the back," said Revs captain Shalrie Joseph. "He’s been in the league so long, he brings that kind of stability and we need that in the back. So, having him back was really good."
Reis could do nothing to stop Paulista from giving the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute, as the Cruzeiro forward opened the scoring with a piece of individual skill inside the box. After Jonathan’s long pass slipped through a pair of Revolution defenders and drew Reis off his line, Paulista used his first touch to push the ball around the New England 'keeper before finishing from an acute angle.
Cruzeiro then hit the crossbar before the half as Ribeiro’s 30-yard blast hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced straight down before an offside call on the follow-up ended the threat.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to find their second goal following the break, as Paulista struck for his second in the 49th minute to make it 2-0. A corner kick swung into the near post caused problems for the Revs, and when the ball popped free a few yards from goal, Paulista pounced on the ball and sent it past Shuttleworth.
The Revs thought they had goals on two occasions in the second half. In the 56th minute Kenny Mansally chipped a delicate shot over the Cruzeiro 'keeper, who tracked back in time to clear the ball to safety. Then in the 79th minute defender Emmanuel Osei seemingly scored off a corner kick play but the goal was waved off for offside called on Mansally.
Cruzeiro rounded out the scoring as Paulista completed his hat trick in the 83rd minute. A clever piece of work from Ribeiro on the right wing opened up space for the cross, and his service found Paulista unmarked six yards from goal for a powerful header to conclude the scoring.
For the first time since the 2010 Major League Soccer season kicked off in late March, the Revs will be off next weekend as they take part in the league-wide break for the group stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They’ll return to league action on Sunday, June 27, when they welcome the archrival Chicago Fire to Gillette Stadium.
CRU – Welington Paulista (Jonathan) 24
CRU – Welington Paulista (Roger) 49
CRU – Welington Paulista (Thiago Ribeiro) 83
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (Bobby Shuttleworth 46), Seth Sinovic, Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Kevin Alston, Khano Smith (Kenny Mansally 30), Shalrie Joseph ©, Pat Phelan, Zak Boggs (Nico Colaluca 80), Marko Perović (Steve Ralston 72, Chris Tierney 74), Zack Schilawski (Kheli Dube 46)
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Murray, Michael Videira, Joseph Niouky
STATS:Shots: 15; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 6; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 13
Cruzeiro: Rafael (Flavio 88), Capaca, Diego Renan (Hyago 46), Gil, Jonathan (Marquinho Paiana 32), Henrique (Fabinho 89), Robert (Elicarlos 58), Fabricio (Pedro Ken 70), Roger (Eber 80), Thiago Ribeiro (Eliandro 87), Welington Paulista (Keiza 86)
Substitutes Not Used: None
STATS: Shots: 14; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 7; Corner Kicks: 5; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 7
NE – Emmanuel Osei (caution) 13
CRU – Henrique (caution) 37
NE – Kenny Mansally (caution) 56
NE – Pat Phelan (caution) 64
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee’s Assistants: Claudio Badea (SAR), Jan Halaska (JAR)
Fourth Official: Guido Gonzalez
Weather: Cloudy, 63 degrees