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Revolution find right formula

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Revolution have been performing more like professional procrastinators than a professional soccer team this season. But a 2-1 victory over the New York/New Jersey MetroStars last night at Giants Stadium could signal that the Revolution are getting down to business in an attempt to make a playoff run.

Pat Noonan converted in the 11th and 72d minutes, then the Revolution resisted the MetroStars' all-out pressure through the final 10 minutes of regulation time and six minutes of injury time, when the home team went to a two-defender alignment. Steve Jolley cut the MetroStars' deficit by scoring off a corner kick in the 81st minute, but the Revolution remained composed, in contrast to several matches in which they had squandered late advantages.

The Revolution (7-9-8) have won twice in the last three matches after sinking into the doldrums with a nine-match winless streak from July 12 to Aug. 30. But the Revolution's prospects seemed to be fading without forwards Chris Brown (right ankle bruise), Joe-Max Moore (right knee sprain), and Taylor Twellman (facial fractures).

"I don't think we have been playing badly," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "We didn't deserve to win against San Jose [a 2-1 loss last week] but we have been playing some pretty good stuff at times, we just haven't put the ball in the back of the net.

"This time, we kept them away from the goal and we kept the ball. When the other team doesn't have the ball and you put one in the back of the net, the game is as simple as that. We were on top for long spells and it was down to us. We had the ball and passed well, and they did not get a chance."

Noonan compensated for the absence of the Revolution's top scoring threats, playing off the physical presence of Dario Fabbro and taking advantage of the midfield presence of Jose Cancela. Noonan displayed composure and a scorer's touch on both goals, breaking open to make himself available, then outmaneuvering defenders before slamming shots past goalkeeper Jonny Walker.

Shalrie Joseph, who accomplished his primary duty by containing the MetroStars' Amado Guevara in midfield, set up the first goal after Cancela had been fouled from behind. Joseph took the free kick before the MetroStars were prepared, finding Noonan in the penalty area. Noonan then cut back on defender Craig Ziadie, his shot deflecting off Jolley.

The Revolution controlled the pace most of the game, and Cancela sent shots off the crossbar in the 13th and 77th minutes.

Cancela also provided a threat in counterattack, which paid off on the second goal. Jay Heaps one-timed a clearance to Cancela on the left side of midfield, Cancela then ran toward the penalty area and found Noonan on a back-post run. Noonan awaited a supporting run by Brian Kamler, then went across the penalty arc before firing into the right side of the net for his fifth goal of the season.

The MetroStars seemed off their game, losing possession easily and failing to threaten until the second half with a three-forward lineup of Guevara, Clint Mathis, and John Wolyniec.

But the MetroStars had excellent chances to tie the score in the 50th minute, when Eddie Gaven advanced alone near the goal area, the 64th minute, when a corner glanced goal-bound off defender Carlos Llamosa, and the 88th minute, when Mathis was left alone for a wide volley from 15 yards. Revolution goalkeeper Aidan Brown stopped Gaven and reached back for a left hand save on the corner kick.

The MetroStars (34 points) remain in second place in the Eastern Conference, 5 points ahead of the last-place Revolution, who play host to Colorado Thursday night.

"If we keep playing like that we will win games," Nicol said. "I am not worried about other teams because if we do our stuff we should be all right. You can't control what the other teams are doing."

The Revolution have six matches left, four against rivals for the final three conference playoff spots behind Chicago.

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