Revolution take 1st loss
Two red cards add to negative night
FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution relinquished their four-game unbeaten streak last night. And they paid a high price in a 2-0 defeat against Real Salt Lake, losing midfielders Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan to second-half red cards, meaning they will be suspended for the Revolution’s visit to Houston next Sunday.
The Revolution (1-1-3, 6 points) had equaled the second-best four-game start in franchise history, but an uneven start to this match allowed RSL to take control in the opening half. After Chris Schuler headed in a corner kick in the 27th minute, RSL held off the Revolution’s aggressive attack, then scored early in the second half to clinch the result.
But Real Salt Lake (3-0-0, 9 points) also lost Will Johnson to a late ejection as three red cards were issued in a Revolution game for the second time in four days, the match concluding with RSL playing 10 on 9.
“For that game to have three red cards is pretty incredible,’’ Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “I haven’t seen any of them, but it’s tough to swallow. We weren’t good, but to lose Shalrie and Pat Phelan for next week in a game where there were no real challenges in it, up until the red card?
“Did we have some fatigue? Yes. We didn’t have any spring in our legs, but at the same time that doesn’t hide the fact we really should have played better, but we didn’t. To give the ball to the opposition as often as we did, you’re not winning games.’’
The Revolution rallied for a 1-1 tie at Vancouver Wednesday, then arrived in Boston Thursday evening. Real Salt Lake, which landed in Boston late Wednesday night after playing a Champions League game in Costa Rica, used mostly reserves.
But the combination of those reserves, plus starters Johnson and right back Robbie Russell, was enough.
The opening goal was set up as Ned Grabavoy found space just beyond the penalty arc, turned, and shot off the inside of the right post, leading to a corner kick. RSL then scored as Schuler headed in Collen Warner’s corner.
The Revolution reacted with increased attacking intensity. Kenny Mansally had the Revolution’s best scoring opportunity in the opening half, driving a 35-yard right-footer just over the bar in the 25th minute. After the RSL goal, Mansally switched to the left wing, Marko Perovic to the right. The changes helped the offensive dynamic as Phelan headed wide off a Perovic-Kevin Alston combination in the 42d minute.
At the start of the second half, the Revolution switched to a 4-4-2 alignment, Sainey Nyassi and Ilia Stolica entering the match. An early Perovic-Joseph-Stolica combination set up Perovic, who failed to get a shot off near the goal area.
Then, Joseph lost possession near the halfway line. And, with the Revolution defenders playing high, Paulo Junior broke through to run on to a Warner through ball, going in alone on Bobby Shuttleworth to score in the 48th minute.
Nicol used the Revolution’s final substitution in the 53d minute, sending in Darrius Barnes for Ryan Cochrane, who had a slight hip injury, in central defense.
Joseph was shown a straight red card by referee Jasen Anno in the 70th minute following a brief altercation with Kyle Beckerman, then Phelan was ejected in the 85th minute. Joseph had pointed a finger close to Beckerman’s head during a verbal clash, which probably warranted a caution instead of a red card. But the Phelan foul, for a tackle on Russell, probably deserved a red. As players from both teams gathered near Russell, Revolution defender Didier Domi and RSL’s Johnson were cautioned, with Johnson getting ejected with a second yellow card.
“It’s the manner in which we give it up, it’s the worst thing about it,’’ Nicol said of the second goal. “We lose the ball on the halfway line, it’s just unforgivable. As much as we’re shell-shocked with the red cards and everything happening in the last 25-30 minutes of the game, it doesn’t hide the fact that we got what we deserved.
“When you see decisions going against you the way they did, it’s very easy for us to sit on the sideline to say you should keep your head. I don’t think anybody was over the top, but certainly guys were frustrated. At least we showed a wee bit of passion, which is good. But frustrating is the right word for the whole evening, not only the last 30 minutes when cards were flying around.
“We were heavy-legged, they came in and did it right, give them credit. They had a good shape, didn’t make any mistakes, cleared their lines, and relied on guys breaking. They got it right and we got it wrong.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.