FOXBORO, Mass. -- Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis’ 2010 debut Sunday night failed to provide the positive jolt the crestfallen team was hoping for, as the hosts fell 1-0 to the Chicago Fire before 12,306 at Gillette Stadium.
But the veteran goalkeeper was hardly to blame. The Revolution were held scoreless for the seventh time this season and the goals drought appears to be taking a heavy toll on the team, leaving exasperated coach Steve Nicol to admit the team will work diligently during the month-long transfer window beginning July 15 to search for a goal scorer that could soothe their woes.
“It’s kind of the old story,’’ said Nicol. “The effort, the endeavor and the spirit, you can’t fault that. But in the final third, we just don’t have the quality. Tonight it just stared you in the face, whether it’s the final ball or the final finish.
"We had some chances. Zak [Schilawski’s] header, he probably should have finished. Sainey [Nyassi] scuffed the ball wide from the middle of the goal. Kheli [Dube] had a chance as well with the ball in the box. Taking chances like that changes the game. Again, you can’t fault the effort. It’s just the quality at the end of it is not there.’’
Bad news rained down on the Revolution last week when the team revealed that striker Taylor Twellman’s comeback from concussion and spinal injuries once again was aborted. Twellman has scored 101 MLS goals but played in only two games last season and has not played at all in 2010.
Edgaras Jankauskas (adductor strain), who could provide some of that missing ingredient at forward, has only played 147 minutes spread out over four games and did not feature in last night’s game. The team then is relying on rookies and complementary players to fill the void of frontline strikers, and they're are not capable of delivering what the team needs.
“Our problems are pretty obvious,’’ Nicol said. “We are not as good as we should be in the final third. That’s the bottom line. We have a transfer window coming and we’re doing all that we can to try and change that.’’
So shorthanded was the team that Nicol placed midfielder Shalrie Joseph at forward for the final 10 minutes hoping the 6-foot-3-inch player could get onto a cross or loose ball in the penalty area.
“Obviously we wanted to try and play football and play through them and around them and all that,’’ said Nicol. “But when you are getting into the last 10 minutes of the game and we’re desperate, we are hoping that Shalrie can get on the end of something. I’m sure if you ask their back four, they are not going to want to see Shalrie going up against them. But again, whether it’s Shalrie or anybody else, we need to get them better service into the box to allow them to get on the end of it.’’
The loss dropped the hosts to 3-8-2 (11 points) on the season while the Fire improved to 4-3-5 (17 points).
Reis’ return was marred by a 30th-minute bomb off the left foot of Marco Pappa from about 30 yards out dead center of the park that accounted for the game’s only goal. The goal was aided by bad marking and miscommunication among the field players that allowed Pappa the time and space to take his shot.
“Absolutely, he had no chance at the goal,’’ Nicol said of Reis. “The goal was a classic case of what some of our problems are at the moment. It’s so avoidable. All it takes is a bit of communication to pass a man on and the guy doesn’t get three days to line it up and bury it. It’s a great finish. Matt has no chance. But it’s so avoidable.’’
Joseph said there were at least three mistakes borne of a lack of communication on the goal.
“Pat [Phelan] should have passed him on to Chris [Tierney],’’ Joseph said. “I should have stayed on my feet and don’t dive in and [Emmanuel] Osei should have stepped up. These are mental mistakes that all three of us made, but overall I should have just stayed on my feet instead of diving in. So it’s my fault that we didn’t get the three points. We should have at least gotten a point tonight.’’
Injuries and bad luck continue to hound the Revolution. Veteran playmaker Steve Ralston, who returned to the team several weeks ago, dislocated his elbow in his return match in a friendly against Brazilian team Cruzeiro and is out indefinitely. With Reis back in the lineup, the Revolution should be able to begin stabilizing the defensive end of their game. Without a goal scorer, however, the road is going to continue to be a bumpy one.