Monday, July 23, 2012
Draw with Sporting K.C. a moral victory
By Brian O'Connell
It wasn’t a win, but the Revolution were certainly pleased to escape LIVESTRONG Sporting Park with a point against a potent Sporting K.C. squad on Saturday. And it’s easy to see why.
On paper, it looked like the guests didn’t have shot. Not in the stifling 99-degree heat or against Sporting’s bold attack. Clearly, the odds weren’t smiling on the Revolution going into Saturday’s clash.
But somehow, through a combination of relentless defending and an all-star performance from keeper Matt Reis, the guests pulled off something almost as important as three points: a much-needed morale boost.
“We needed that,” Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph said after Saturday’s 0-0 draw. “We’ve been giving up too many goals, whether it be (against) Montreal last week or Toronto the week before. To get the 0-0 result against a team like Kansas City with so many offensive weapons feels good.”
No doubt the losses to Toronto (July 14) and Montreal (July 18) weighed on their minds prior to Saturday’s game. But once the opening whistle sounded, all of it was forgotten.
From the outset, it was apparent that the Revolution were a team that would refuse to bow before their guests. Using a hybrid 4-5-1 that kept Ryan Guy -- a midfielder by trade -- as the striker, they looked like a team ready to suffocate their opponent into submission.
But only four minutes into the match, the Revolution almost found a way to make an early statement. Benny Feilhaber led a long pass through to Guy, who pounded a shot that keeper Jimmy Nielsen denied. Clearly, the guests were up for the task.
“I’m pleased with the effort the guys put it,” Feilhaber said after the game. “It was good for everybody to stand up for themselves and put the responsibilities on each others’ shoulders.”
Although the attack may have faded in the second frame, the defense flexed its muscles to strong-arm K.C. away from the net.
Whether it was Joseph clogging the passing lanes or Stephen McCarthy and A.J. Soares winning the aerial battles, the Revolution’s form in the defending third was at its best under pressure.
“They were pushing a lot of numbers forward and we were just sitting back and defending and making sure we didn’t give up any chances,” Joseph said. “They are a good team going forward and we did well to get a 0-0 result.”
A big factor in the scoreless draw was the superb form of keeper Reis, who stopped six shots on the night for the shutout -- something he knew the Revolution would have to achieve to get a positive result.
“It was something that we talked about before the game,” Reis said afterward. “We knew that we had to defend first, and that’s what we did.”
But it wasn’t before they had to endure an extra 11 minutes of stoppage time in the sauna-like conditions at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. With heavy legs and sweaty brows, the Revolution tapped into what little energy they had left to see the game out and pocket their first road shutout of the season.
“I think we were pretty tired at the end of the game,” Feilhaber said. “But we were able to hold the shutout, which was important for us. All in all, it is a good result for us.”