Revs defeat Atlante 1-0 in SuperLiga semis
Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution played their biggest game this season in front of a small crowd of 8,302 to defeat Mexican Apertura champion Atlante 1-0 in the SuperLiga semi-finals. Shalrie Joseph headed in the solo goal off a Steve Ralston free kick in the 30th minute. It was Joseph’s second game-winning goal in as many games. The Revolution now advance to the finals Tuesday, Aug. 5, where they will face another longtime nemesis, the Houston Dynamo.
The game turned ugly, with 14 cards issued and four players ejected, most in a post-game fracas at midfield. Atlante played a short, quick passing game in the first half, forcing the Revs to modify their wide, crossing style of play. “We were prepared for that,” said Jeff Larentowicz, who stepped into the backline for Michael Parkhurst. “We knew they like to tuck their wide midfielders inside and push guys forward and we were prepared and our wide midfielders knew how to handle it.”
The match began to spin out of control when Joseph was fouled to the turf and Chris Albright forced Gabriel Arreola out of bounds to where warming-up players became involved in the action. The referee managed to calm the situation without cautions, which may have inadvertently help enable the melee that eventually ensued.
Larentowicz hinted at this after the match. “I think there were times when the referee could have gotten control,” he said. “I mean, someone gets fouled in our box and their goalkeeper runs 110 yards to get come and get involved?” The Brown University alum also seemed to think the different sums of bonus money may have contributed to Atlante’s conduct. “You put a million dollars in front of anybody, they’re going to play hard. If they lose, they’re going to be that much more upset. Obviously, we came in here with a smaller prize, but we wanted to play as hard – we’re at home – and we got the result we wanted.”
Luis Gabriel Rey, who scored three goals for Atlante in SuperLiga, was ejected first for punching Joseph in the stomach in the 85th minute. Alan Zamora was next, ejected for his second yellow in stoppage time. Ejected in the subsequent fracas were goalkeeper Frederico Vilar, and Heaps for retaliating after being punched in the face.
Matt Reis was irate about the general conduct of the Mexican teams in the SuperLiga tournament. “If you look at the tape of every game that one of the teams from Mexico has lost, they’re all screaming and yelling at the referee. They have people from their staff coming on taking shots at people. The referee doesn’t call the game, we get guys bladed, and we’re doing all this for 15% of the prize. So in the end, we’re not happy – we’re not happy with the way things went down, but we played a good game, and all they wanted to do is come here and fight us. Guys from their team, guys from their staff just came in and start swinging and hitting people from behind – cheap shots.”
The Atlante staff refused to comment after the match, and coach Steve Nicol was critical of their behavior. “The referee can only give yellows and reds, he can’t stop people from losing their discipline … At the end of the day, the players have to discipline themselves as well. They lost their discipline … The one thing that really disappointed me is that there was one member of their staff on the field throwing punches, and that is unacceptable.”
The loss of Heaps, after the call-up of Parkhurst and the unexpected retirement of Chase Hilgenbrinck, is a major setback to the Revolution’s defense. Former Liverpool defender Nicol noted, “Jay Heaps being sent off is a real blow. I’m hoping the referee will look at it and see whether he made the right decision. Jay said the guy punched him – but he got sent off. Hopefully the referee can look at it and see he made an error in judgment and will speak up for it.” If Heaps’ ejection stands after review, the Revolution will likely start solid newcomer Chris Tierney or fast track young defenders Rob Valentino or Sam Brill, whose starting experience is limited to the Open Cup.
The Revolution may face Atlante twice more in the CONCACAF tournament, and considering the current tally of 26 cards and seven ejections in two match-ups, these games will turn a floodlight on the increasing Mexican/MLS rivalry.
New England Revolution vs. Atlante July 30, 2008 – Foxborough, Mass. (Gillette Stadium)
Scoring Summary: NE – Shalrie Joseph (Steve Ralston) 30
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (GK), Amaechi Igwe, Jay Heaps, Jeff Larentowicz, Chris Albright, Mauricio Castro (Khano Smith 64), Shalrie Joseph, Steve Ralston ©, Sainey Nyassi, Kenny Mansally (Adam Cristman 79), Kheli Dube
Substitutes Not Used: Doug Warren (GK), Wells Thompson, Chris Tierney, Taylor Twellman, Brandon Tyler
STATS: Shots 17; Shots on Goal 5; Saves 4; Corner Kicks 2; Offsides 2; Fouls Committed 17
Atlante: Federico Vilar (GK) ©, Gerardo Castillo (Luis Venegas 39), Javier Munoz Mustafa, Jose Guerrero (Edgar Trujillo 80), Arturo Munoz (Fernando Navarro 50), Christian Bermudez, Gerardo Espinoza (Ismael Valadez 90), Alan Zamora, Giancarlo Maldonado, Daniel Arreola, Luis Gabriel Rey
Substitutes Not Used: Gerardo Ruiz (GK), Andres Carevic, Mario Hernandez
STATS: Shots 8; Shots on Goal 4; Saves 4; Corner Kicks 6; Offsides 7; Fouls Committed 23
NE – Amaechi Igwe (caution) 27
NE – Sainey Nyassi (caution) 52
ATN – Giancarlo Maldonado (caution) 53
ATN – Gerardo Espinoza (caution) 56
ATN – Fernando Navarro (caution) 71
ATN – Alan Zamora (caution) 84
ATN – Luis Gabriel Rey (ejection) 85
NE – Chris Albright (caution) 85
ATN – Federico Vilar (caution) 85
NE – Adam Cristman (caution) 90
ATN – Alan Zamora (second caution/ejection) 91+
ATN – Javier Munoz Mustafa (caution) 95+
NE – Jay Heaps (ejection) 95+
ATN – Federico Vilar (ejection) 95+
Referee: Carlos Batres
Referee’s Assistants: Amato De Luca (SAR), Joe Fletcher (JAR) Fourth Official: Mark Geiger