Friday, May 14, 2010
Revolution trudge ahead vs. Earthquakes
By Gus Martins
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Although they lost last weekend in Columbus, the Revolution scored a victory of sorts by finishing the game with a full complement of 11 players on the field.
Unlike the previous two contests when three expulsions left them short-handed for more than 100 total minutes (two men down against Dallas for 22 minutes and one man down for 60 minutes vs. Chivas USA) before playing havoc with their player selection for the following games.
The Revolution nearly pulled off an improbable result last weekend going ahead twice in the contest before succumbing to a bizarre finish in the game's final minutes to lose 3-2 despite rookie Zak Boggs' first two career goals.
But it doesn't appear that panic has set in even though it would be understandable if it had. The Revolution do, however, recognize they have to quickly begin improving on their 2-5-1 record, a task that could be especially challenging Saturday considering the Earthquakes (4-2-0, 12 points) come in as winners of four of their last five games.
"Of course we are looking for three points every time we go on the field," said coach Steve Nicol. "Particularly, it is more disappointing when we are at home. But, again, the circumstances have dictated that for us to get three points at home have been difficult playing man down. We're disappointed. But as long as there are circumstances that can be rectified then we can do something about it. If we are just totally outplayed and we are not good and all of the rest of that, then that's a huge problem. But I don't think that's been the case. We have just let ourselves down with some red cards and some bad decisions. But as long as things can rectify stuff, you are always going to be positive."
Should that improvement come Saturday night, it could also serve as a gauge considering the Revolution dropped a 2-0 contest to the Earthquakes earlier this season in a game back in San Jose. Defender and captain Cory Gibbs said the team still feels it is on solid footing considering they haven't won in a while.
"I think the morale is good considering what we've been going through this rough patch while we've been dealing with some [expulsions]," he said. "But we've gotten past that and now we are working with the players we have and we've got some key players back from suspension. We are going to work with the group we have like we always have and just get through it."
Gibbs said that shutting down the Quakes offense with Chris Wondolowski, who has scored a goal in four straight games, won't be easy.
"Good team," Gibbs he said. "They work hard. They are a nuisance up top when they want to be. [Bobby] Convey serves a good ball in. We just have to worry about the balls coming into the box. If we play our game, we know we should be able to win and get a result out of the game."
Nicol offered San Jose similar praise but stated that it was vital for his team to get one into the win column.
"They're on a great run so they are going to be coming in confident," said Nicol. "They'll want to get after us and get early goals. But it is important that we put in a good performance. Getting your points at home is really important in MLS. So they are strong. But we are looking to be stronger."
Boggs, who was hoping to be back in the starting lineup Saturday, said his goals were bittersweet because the team didn't get any points out of the contest.
"It felt good," he said. "I think, if you watch the goals, it was definitely a team effort. It's been tough. I know that Stevie has had some selections issues and stuff with suspensions, injuries. For whatever reasons, we have guys, regardless, so no excuses, I suppose. We are trying to put together a complete 90 minutes."
Gibbs also thinks the makeshift lineup that was cobbled together for last week's game, which had left back Seth Sinovic switching over to the right side and midfielder Khano Smith playing in defense, was a good indicator of the team's resourcefulness.
"I think we performed well against Columbus," he said. "We started out well and did some good things. I told the boys at the end of the Columbus game that a lot of great things came out of this game. We just have to look at that and keep moving forward and it was just unfortunate that at the end that we didn't get a point."
Notes: Nicol said he is hoping to get right back Steve Alston back into the starting team for Saturday's game. Alston missed last week's contest with a leg injury. "Obviously, we are hoping that Alston will be in," said the coach. "We'll see [Saturday] morning." ... The Revolution waived Honduran midfielder Mauricio Castro. Castro, 28, signed with the Revolution in February 2008 from Olimpia of Honduras' Liga Nactional. He made 30 appearances with the Revolution, with 25 starts, while recording four assists.