Booster shots for Revolution
Return of Joseph keys 2d-half surge
FOXBOROUGH - The red pants Shalrie Joseph sported following last night’s Revolution match drew a couple of playful jabs from his teammates.
The color may have been a bold choice for the 31-year-old, but Joseph is far from a mild personality. And as a veteran on the Revolution, his presence makes a similar statement.
Joseph returned to action last night for the first time since a bone bruise in his knee sidelined him in June. He started the second half against Chivas USA and made an impact that helped New England capture a 2-0 win in front of 10,997 at Gillette Stadium. It was the Revolution’s first MLS victory since June 7.
After a sluggish first half, Joseph’s 6-foot-3-inch frame and ability to keep possession gave the Revolution more options in the offensive end that turned into scoring chances and eventually goals.
“He helped us a lot because in the first half I was kind of alone up top, and I’m kind of short for those big guys,’’ said Kheli Dube. “So when Shalrie came in he helped holding the ball and creating a little space for me.’’
Dube and Joseph were able to team up on a couple of chances in the second half, including one that was smacked away with one hand by Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton in the 56th minute.
But five minutes later, Joseph laced the ball between two Chivas players just in time for Dube to charge Thornton and put away the goal for a 1-0 lead. It snapped a 302-minute scoreless streak in MLS matches that was the second longest in Revolution history.
The goal seemed to jump-start the team, and Joseph was in the center of the Revolution’s push in the Chivas end the rest of the match. In the 77th minute, Joseph sent a pass to Dube that bounced toward Chivas midfielder Sasha Victorine in the box. Victorine attempted to clear the ball but slipped and Steve Ralston strolled in to take advantage, scoring his fifth goal of the season, tying Joseph for the team lead.
“It all comes from the guys doing their work and once we start working together as a team, some people get the reward, but it is all about the team effort,’’ Joseph said.
Joseph had not played a match since a 3-1 loss at Kansas City June 13. He has been a critical part of the lineup and shown his versatility by moving from central midfield to forward to fill gaps created by injuries. His play resulted in a selection to the MLS All-Star team’s First XI for the fourth consecutive season and his sixth selection overall.
The Revolution (5-5-5, 20 points) may have missed Joseph in the lineup, but coach Steve Nicol said he wasn’t going to rush him back, even though Joseph had been begging all week to play.
“We need to look after him, No. 1,’’ Nicol said. “It’s important that he’s good, but obviously we need to look after the team as well. So there is a happy medium between both.’’
Any type of boost in the second half was welcomed after the Revolution’s first-half performance. Nicol didn’t hide his disappointment at halftime.
“The first half was garbage,’’ Nicol said. “We basically told them that at halftime. There really isn’t any other way to describe it other than it was wrong. We couldn’t head it, we couldn’t pass it, we couldn’t challenge; you name it we couldn’t do it.
“The second half was always going to be better, but at the end of the day I give them credit for stepping up.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at email@example.com.