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Revolution lack finishing kick

Exhibition match ends in 2-2 draw

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador -- The Revolution's preseason training schedule has been heavy on practice and light on games. The result so far is that they appear fresh physically but questions were raised about their competitive sharpness in a 2-2 tie with SC Emelec's Under-20 team in an exhibition match last night.

The Revolution are without national team members Clint Dempsey, Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston, and Taylor Twellman, plus Brazilian midfielder Cassio, on this trip. Cassio is scheduled to arrive in Boston Saturday night.

This match was to be a test for forwards Connally Edozien and Khano Smith, and Smith gave the Revolution a two-goal lead off a through ball from Edozien in the 39th minute. Jose Cancela scored the first goal in the 19th minute, seconds after Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph was ejected for arguing with the referee.

The Revolution were allowed to replace Joseph with Luke Vercollone, but that altered the dynamic of their 3-5-2 formation. Joe Franchino moved into the midfield, Marshall Leonard switched from the left wing to defense, and Vercollone played on the left wing. But the Revolution continued to play a dominant possession game.

Michael Parkhurst performed well in the center of defense, with Jay Heaps supporting on the right, and James Riley provided an offensive threat and defensive cover on the right wing.

But the Revolution failed to maintain that level in the second half, then dropped off even more with several substitutions, plus the loss of Avery John to a 77th-minute red card.

"In the first half we passed the ball but we missed four goals," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "You have to be strong and keep your head. They ended up getting a crap free-kick [in the 55th minute] and then it took us 10 minutes to recover. I am encouraged by the first half, but when it was 2-nil we had a chance to finish them off and we didn't do it.

"The potential is there with both [Edozien and Smith] but you also have to be ruthless as a forward and put the ball in the net."

Nicol made four substitutions in the 64th minute, and the Revolution surrendered the tying goal seconds later.

"We kept the ball in the first half but they controlled it in the second half," Cancela said. "We haven't played for a while, and all the changes and expulsions caused us some problems. But we have to play better and when the other team is keeping the ball, we have to find a way to get it back and hold onto it.

"This showed we have the capability to play well and that we have the players. Now, we have to get better and get ready for the first game."

This was only the third Revolution match of the preseason, but the effect of the lack of competition on the team's MLS season will not be known until after the season opener April 2 in San Jose, Calif.

The Revolution have been cautious in their preseason planning, which has been affected by the New England winter. Two games were held in Bermuda, but the Revolution did not play a game between March 4 and last night.

One concern has been avoiding injuries. Carlos Llamosa tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the final preseason match last year on artificial turf in New Orleans. It was the only ACL injury sustained by a Revolution player in the team's nine seasons, and it led to a chaotic situation in central defense, with seven starters.

The Revolution have been training on excellent fields at Ciudad Deportiva, a recently constructed facility on the western outskirts of Ecuador's largest city. But proposed provincial stadia have not been considered adequate by Revolution administrators and coaches, who called off matches against Quevedo (March 15) and El Nacional (March 16), and switched the match against Emelec in Portoviejo to a closed-door exhibition in Guayaquil's Estadio Capwell. The Revolution are scheduled to meet Barcelona SC in Machala tomorrow, then return to Boston Friday.

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