When Kevin Alston came on as a substitute in the 84th minute of Saturday night's 2-1 Revolution win over DC United, he was a symbol of strength for his teammates.
The Revolution were defending a late rally from United at RFK Stadium after scoring two consecutive goals to take the lead. Alston came on for Dimitry Imbongo, who scored the Revolution's first goal, making his first appearance since March 30 after successfully treating chronic myelogenous leukemia.
“It’s what I love to do and as soon as I got that green light I was training and thinking about getting back on the field and doing everything I can to help the team," explained Alston, who was activated from the Revolution's disabled list on July 15.
Alston slotted in at left back, pushing Chris Tierney higher up the flank. His presence also gave the Revolution a much-needed boost of energy to fend of United's late push for an equalizer.
“It was awesome," said Revolution Coach Jay Heaps after the game. "I thought he did great. He’s exactly what we needed—a shot of energy. He’s been itching to get on the field and you could see when he came on he was like a shot out of a cannon.”
Though Alston only played for ten minutes, he made a major contribution in the 86th minute when he forced out a shot from the top of the penalty area by former Revolution midfielder Sainey Nyassi. Nyassi, who only recently signed with DC, was unmarked and had a clear shot at goal before Alston ran in to disrupt his incoming shot.
Alston made his return-- and helped the Revolution preserve a victory that pushes them into the Eastern Conference's fifth playoff spot-- in front of family and friends. Alston grew up in the DC area and said after the game that his parents, grandparents, and close friends made the short trek to RFK Stadium to see him play.
“I’ve had to be very patient," Alston added. There were a lot of unknowns. Even through the whole recovery process. I can’t tell you how many times I’d go in for a doctor’s appointment and think I was doing well, but have the doctor tell me my level was much lower."
"That was my fault for setting myself up for a fall like that, but a lot of patience was necessary because there was so much unknown. I didn’t know how long it would be or what the recovery process would be.”
The Revolution played 19 games without Alston. In that time, they've emerged as a potential playoff caliber team in the Eastern Conference. When Alston was put on the disabled list, he was a starter. He has since lost his starting role to Andrew Farrell and Chris Tierney. But what's important is that Alston is back and has a chance to compete again for a starting role.
“It’s what I love to do and as soon as I got that green light I was training and thinking about getting back on the field and doing everything I can to help the team,” Alston added.
Breakers score five on Spirit
The Boston Breakers's playoff chances are still alive after they beat the Washington Spirit 5-2 on Saturday night at the Maryland Soccerplex. Heather O'Reilly, Lianne Sanderson, Rhian Wilkinson, Mariah Nogueira, and Cat Whitehill all found the back of the net in the Breakers' highest scoring game this season.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak. The Breakers, who have just four games left, likely need to win-out the rest of the season to clinch a playoff berth. They're currently four points behind the Western New York Flash for the fourth and final spot. They play the Flash at Dilboy Stadium on Aug. 3.
"It was a great team effort," Boston Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole said. "We talked about not relying on one person to score and how we need to share the responsibility, and we lived up to that today. We want to make sure we do a good job and put ourselves in a position (for the playoffs). We put all our heart and effort into this."
Beware of Panama
Underdogs have a tendency of being legitimate title contenders. The US will try to guard against that when they take on Panama in the Gold Cup final on Sunday in Chicago.
Panama knocked out Mexico 2-1 in a shock result in the semifinals. The US are still favorites, however, since they're at home and have scored an overwhelming 19 goals in the tournament.
The US are looking for their fifth Gold Cup title while Panama are looking for their first. In 2005, the US defeated Panama in the final, beating them on penalties 3-1 after the game went scoreless through regulation and extra time.
Roma announces team for All-Star game
AS Roma have announced their roster for a friendly against the MLS All-Stars on July 31, plus additional games versus Toronto FC and Chelsea. Recent acquisitions Maicon, Morgan De Sanctis, Mehdi Benatia, and Kevin Strootman will all travel to the US. So will US national team midfielder Michael Bradley, who scored last week in a friendly against Aris.
Pablo Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi, who are both rumored to be Premier League-bound, are also a part of the squad.
New Roma coach Rudi Garcia has also called up key players Francesco Totti, Alessandro Florenzi, Federico Balzaretti, Miralem Pjanic, and Erik Lamela. Roma are looking to engineer the signings of Gervinho from Arsenal and Alberto Gilardino from Genoa, though neither will join Roma in the US if they sign.
No Revolution player got called to the MLS All Star team, with central defender Jose Goncalves regarded as a major snub. Landon Donovan has been picked to replace an injured Robbie Keane on the All-Star roster.
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