Photo by ISIphotos.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
For the second time in four days, the New England Revolution jumped out to a 2-0 lead over one of the top teams in MLS. And, for the second time in four days, the Revs were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Goals from Pat Phelan and Shalrie Joseph gave the Revolution their lead against the Columbus Crew Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, and goals from Steven Lenhart and Guillermo Barros Schelotto salvaged a point for the visitors.
"I think we took our foot off the gas just a little and once they scored that first goal, there was probably some doubt creeping in some people’s minds like, ‘Oh no, here we go again,’" said Phelan after the match. "You try and prevent that but you can’t help but think of it."
The equalizer for Columbus came in the 80th minute when the ball hit Shalrie Joseph's out-stretched arm inside the penalty area. Schelotto coolly put away the spot kick to draw the Crew level.
Phelan opened the scoring for the Revs in just the second minute of the game. The midfielder found himself unmarked in the box on a Marko Perovic free kick and scored an easy tap-in. The goal was Phelan's second of the year and the second of his MLS career.
Early goals often lead to wide-open games, and both teams exchanged good build-ups in the first half. After conceding the early goal, Columbus settled in and created good opportunities for Lenhart, Schelotto and Eddie Gaven.
"I thought we responded very well," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "We created some chances and we defended well."
After Shalrie Joseph extended the Revs lead on a 56th minute penalty kick, the Crew again responded well. In the 62nd minute, they pulled one back when Shaun Francis sent a teasing ball into the Revolution box. Only Steven Lenhart was there for the Crew, but he beat Cory Gibbs to the ball and put a diving header past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.
The Revs' penalty came from a tremendous individual effort by Ilija Stolica after a nice build-up from the Revs. Stolica himself started the break after a corner kick at the other end. The Serbian forward found a streaking Kenny Mansally on the left wing. The Gambian’s cross found Marko Perovic in the box, who pulled the ball back for his countryman Stolica. Stolica had his initial shot blocked, but won the ball back and was tripped up by Andy Iro.
In the end, both teams will feel they could have gotten three points from the match. Columbus could easily have tied the game at 1 before halftime, and the Revs should have done better to protect their lead in the second half.
Reis kept the Revs ahead with a brilliant save in the 41st minute. A Schelotto cross forced Phelan into an awkward clearance that could easily have ended up in his own goal, but Reis reacted quickly and tipped the header over the bar.
Schelotto probably should have equalized sooner. He missed a golden opportunity in the 64th, when Gaven rolled the ball back to him at the top of the box, but the Argentine's first time shot was too high.
Both teams have challenging matches coming up on their schedules. The Revolution host Real Salt Lake next Saturday, while Columbus travels to Guatemala to face Municipal in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday.
Here are the highlights from the match:
What did you think of the match? Did either team deserve all three points? Surprised not to see more reserves from the Crew with a chance advance from its Champions League group on Wednesday?
The Coach of the Crew came out this week and said some really bizarre things about his team. Basically he thinks that Schelotto is too small and causing too many turnovers for the Crew. He’s a player that causes concern because the Crew can’t play a 4-4-2 with him in the lineup. Not that he has a strategy from game to game though (his words). Could that be a reason for Schelotto sitting against RSL last year in the playoffs? It was really strange thing to read. I won’t link to it here but you can find it on the Crew website. Maybe Ives can look into.
These CCL games are running teams ragged.
I’ve been a Revolution season ticket holder for 10 years. They are becoming the hardest team to root for. Half the players look like they are going through the motions and we have no good, young American talent besides Alston.
The only redeeming part of this season is Perovic.