Revs Quakes stalemate yields a positive point
For just the second time this season and the first time in over a month, the New England Revolution were able to keep a clean sheet as they held their opponents the San Jose Earthquakes scoreless. Although the Revs were not able to find the back of the net themselves, they proved not only to have the defensive mettle necessary to earn a draw, but showed strength in the midfield for the second league game in a row.
Steve Nicol was again forced to field a make-shift line up with regular starters Darrius Barnes, Emmanuel Osei, and Shalrie Joseph all unavailable. The injuries to both Barnes (foot ligament) and Osei (leg infection) forced Nicol to move defensive midfielder Pat Phelan to a center back position to partner with Revs captain Cory Gibbs, who was also carrying a slight quad strain. Although Phelan played center back in college at Wake Forest, it was just his second start in this position for the Revs, the first coming last Wednesday night in a 3-0 loss to NY Red Bulls in the US Open Cup. Phelan and Gibbs were flanked on the right by Kevin Alston, who was also returning from injury, and by rookie Seth Sinovic on the left, making his 9th straight league start.
For the second league match in a row, Nicol strengthened his midfield by fielding 5 across the middle. Sainey Nyassi played on his usual right side, with rookie Zak Boggs resuming his role from last Saturday night against Columbus on the left flank, where he scored the Revs’ only goals of the match and the first two of his career. In the defensive midfielder spot Chris Tierney proved his versatility playing along side Joseph Niouky. Marko Perovic, who missed the Columbus game due to suspension, played in an attacking midfielder position, leaving Kheli Dube up top as the lone forward. Goalkeeper Preston Burpo made his 9th straight start for the Revolution in league play.
San Jose Head Coach Frank Yallop fielded a straight 4-4-2 formation very similar to the one he fielded against the Revs earlier this season. Longtime ‘Quake Keeper Joe Cannon made the start along with Quakes captain Ramiro Corrales and Jason Hernandez. Chris Leitch, who missed the first game against the Revs, returned to the starting lineup; however, rookie Ike Opara, who scored against the Revs in their first meeting, sat out due to injury and did not make the trip. He was replaced by defender Bobby Burling. Joey Gjertsen, Andre Luiz, Brandon McDonald and Bobby Convey played the midfield, with Boston’s own Ryan Johnson and Chris Wondolowski up front.
After some good pressure by the Revolution early on in the match which saw Perovic and Nyassi looking dangerous in the attacking end of the pitch, along with a long range shot by Alston that sailed over the cross bar, the Quakes applied some pressure of their own. A poor touch by Niouky in his defensive half yielded a long range shot by McDonald in the 7th minute, and in the 8th minute Wondolowski ran on to the end of a through pass from Convey and squared it for Johnson in front of the net, but Johnson’s low driven effort was stopped by a tremendous foot save by Burpo.
For the rest of the first half, the Revolution applied good pressure in the San Jose end of the field. In the 13th minute, a throw in from Sinovic from the left corner led to some good possession in front of the San Jose goal. The throw in was headed away by San Jose, but right back to Sinovic, who put in a perfect ball to Zak Boggs, but lost his footing and the ball was again cleared away. Boggs however did well to track it down, and resume the attack. Niouky played the ball across to Tierney, who chose to let it run on, only to have the ball cleared away. Again it was Sinovic who collected the ball, and played a great ball over the top to Kheli Dube, who was ruled offside as he put the ball into the wrong side of the side netting.
The first half saw a number of free kick opportunities for the Revolution, but to no avail. Perovic, whose only goal this season came off of a free kick against Colorado, could find neither the range nor a target to put the ball into the net. However the Revs continued to apply pressure, and did well to create some opportunities. Chris Tierney got his head on to the end of a loose ball and flicked it on to Dube, who forced Cannon to palm the ball over the side.
The first yellow card of the match went to San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales in the 20th minute for pulling down Nyassi on the right flank. Again Perovic delivered a good ball into the box but again was cleared away. Just minutes later San Jose won a free kick as Phelan fouled Ryan Johnson on the right side. Convey’s free kick was delivered well into the box but punched away by Burpo.
Niouky was fouled in the 25th minute about 10 yards outside the box giving another free kick to the Revs, but Perovic’s attempt was high over the crossbar. Minutes later Tierney picked up the ball from Nyassi’s cross but the shot is also well over the bar. Shortly thereafter Perovic made a nice move to get free on the right but the cross went over the goal and out of bounds in the 30th minute. Perovic again led the attack and ran the ball down in the corner ball, dished it off to Nyassi, who slotted it into to Dube, who in turn found Alston for the shot, but again Alston’s effort was way over the net.
San Jose saw some good possession in the 35th minute, with Chris Wondolowski in the corner. He burned Revs’ defender Cory Gibbs and threaded a hard cross across the face of the goal, but the ball was cleared by Alston. Boggs did well to collect it, but lost it to Gjertsen and in the effort to win it back inadvertently fouled him. However, the ensuing free kick was cleared away.
As the first half was coming to a close, Joseph Niouky received a yellow card, his fourth in five games, in the 39th minute for a foul on Andre Luiz. However the Revs defense was able to clear the ball over the goal line, and then clear the following corner way up the field.
The Revs continued to dominate in the final minutes. Perhaps the best attempt in the first half came from Sainey Nyassi who in the 43rd minute who forced Cannon to make an outstanding diving save to his right. The half came to a close with yet another free kick for Perovic, but ended scoreless.
Although neither team made a halftime substitute, the second half saw a more even match as the Earthquakes began to assert themselves a bit more forward. However it was the Revolution that would get the first good chance of the half, with a good shot by Kheli Dube in the 48th minute, that was again well saved by Joe Cannon.
The Revs continued to generate offense and played strong in the attacking third. Seth Sinovic again did well to drive the ball forward and even managed to flick on a shot off of a corner that looked dangerously close to finding the back of the net in the 53rd minute.
The next real opportunity came for the Revs in the 61st minute. Joseph Niouky found enough space in the midfield to get the shot off, and looked to have beaten the San Jose keeper. The ball however found the post, ricocheted to the feet of Chris Tierney, whose second effort was easily collected by Cannon.
San Jose did well to beat the offside trap and almost capitalized, with Preston Burpo almost at the edge of his box. Ryan Johnson did well to turn the ball in but could not get the shot past the outstretched arms of the Revs keeper.
In the 66th minute, Nyassi drew another foul as he had beaten Ramiro Corrales on the right hand side. Again Perovic took the free kick and drove it strong into the box only to have it cleared away.
San Jose came back quick to counter in the 67th minute. Ramiro Corrales received the ball from a throw in the Revs half of the field and looped a left-footed cross into the box that found Joey Gjertsen on the for post. He bounced the ball to Ryan Johnson in front of the goal, who headed the ball on frame only to be denied by Preston Burpo.
Minutes later Burpo was tested again by San Jose, as Bobby Burling was one on one with the keeper. Burpo made himself big in front of the ball and deflected Burling’s shot to the side.
The only substitutions for the revs came in the 70th minute when Dube came off for rookie goal scorer Zack Schilawski, and Zak Boggs came off for Khano Smith, but neither were able to generate any real scoring chances. Although the Quakes continued to pressure, Wondolowski’s 78th minute shot over the bar was the last decent chance for either team. The Revs’ last best chance came in the 82nd minute, where Seth Sinovic sent a searching ball into the box for the onrushing Schilawski. However the ball was a little too high, and Schilawski was waved offside.
The Revs played well for the last 10 minutes and dominated the flow of play, but to no avail. With minimum stoppage time awarded, the game ended as the game began: scoreless. The Revolution however seemed to have found some stability in the midfield, which has been the root problem of the Revolution’s winless streak until recent weeks.
Preston Burpo was far and away the man of the match for the Revolution. He made 6 saves on 13 shots for just the 12th shutout in his MLS career.