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Playoff chances hurting

Injuries decimate Revolution offense

FOXBOROUGH -- Finishing scoring chances has not been a major problem for the Revolution this season. Joe-Max Moore, Pat Noonan, Major League Soccer scoring leader Taylor Twellman, plus newcomers Chris Brown and Dario Fabbro have all demonstrated a knack for converting goals.

But the Revolution's offensive prospects have deteriorated as they prepare for a visit to the MetroStars Saturday. Twellman (fractured cheekbones and broken nose) has returned to practice, though he will not be available until at least next Thursday's game against Colorado. But Moore (left knee sprain) is out and Brown, who spent yesterday undergoing an X-ray on his right leg (which proved negative), is questionable for Saturday.

That could leave the Revolution starting the Fabbro-Noonan combination, one that is not dynamic enough to upset the opposition's plans, though Noonan scored an impressive goal in a 2-1 loss to San Jose Sunday. So, the Revolution are in a difficult position, attempting to rally into the playoffs without Moore and Twellman, who were expected to be the foundation for the team's attack.

Coach Steve Nicol believes both Moore and Twellman will return. But with the Revolution (6-9-8) trailing Columbus by 2 points in the race for the final playoff spot, the comebacks of Moore and Twellman could be too late.

"Let's hope not," Nicol said yesterday. "We are not looking at it like that."

The fates of Moore and Twellman symbolize the Revolution's season. Moore, whose injury problems started during preseason training, has missed eight of 23 games and has seldom been at full speed for an entire match. Twellman was kicked in the face by Los Angeles defender Danny Califf in the first half of an Aug. 23 game, the first chance he had to perform alongside Fabbro, who had just been acquired from Kansas City.

The loss of these two strikers, the Revolution's all-time leading scorers, has forced Nicol to make major alterations.

"[Moore] got himself ready for the season but ever since something is not happening for him," Nicol said. "It's tweaks here and there. He looks after himself well but he has been unlucky. He has taken knocks at the wrong times and his season has been interrupted continually by niggles. When he gets a chance to show what he can do, people are going to be more than happy with him. He has not had a lot of chances to show what he can do."

Moore, 31, is an excellent streak scorer but has not had a goal-scoring spree since his first season at Everton FC in 1999-2000. Moore was also expected to provide composure, leadership, and skill to either the Revolution's midfield or forward line. But Moore's season began on the wrong foot -- he was ejected after playing six minutes as a substitute in the season-opener at Chicago.

Twellman scrimmaged yesterday but is not going full speed because of his injuries.

"It could be another two weeks," Twellman said. "I can train but I have to avoid head balls to let my face heal. No head balls is tough because the long ball is a big part of this team. I have lost a lot of conditioning but this will be better for my conditioning in the long run."

The Revolution have scored 38 goals but surrendered 40 this season, a similar differential to last season. But the Revolution were at full strength when they made a late rally and advanced to the MLS Cup final.

"We are in the same position as last year and, hopefully, it will turn out the same way," defender Carlos Llamosa said. "This year, everything is about us -- we play three times against New York, plus Columbus and D.C. United at home. If we get the points at home we can still make the playoffs."

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