By Kevin Koczwara
Kenny Mansally helped the New England Revolution (1-1-0, 3 pts.) notch their first win of the 2010 campaign with a 2-0 victory over D.C. United at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., Saturday night with a pair of goals less than a minute apart.
Mansally came on in the 68th minute for rookie Zack Schilawski, who looked frustrated with the Revolution’s lack of ability to get the ball to their strikers in dangerous space. Mansally got himself involved in the Revolution counterattack right away when he scored the first goal of the game in the 79th minute. Mansally put away his first opportunity on net when it came to him from a beautiful cross by Chris Tierney on the left side of the midfield.
Mansally connected on the Revolution’s second goal two minutes later, in the 81st minute, with a shot from just outside of the 18-yard-box. He turned and curled a shot into the upper left-hand corner of the net, beating D.C. United keeper Troy Perkins for the second time of the night.
Mansally’s two goals were the Revolution’s first two real chances on net as they struggled to gain possession and move the ball through the midfield.
D.C. United (0-2-0, 0 pts.) dominated possession but lacked any real creativity in the final third. United’s lack of killer pass has to be attributed to the Revolution’s great composure and discipline on the defensive end.
Coach Steve Nicol had his troops in the backline working hard and organized. Corey Gibbs, recently acquired from the Colorado Rapids via trade this summer, was stellar in the center of the defense. He blocked countless shots, and kept the back four in unison while D.C. United pressed towards the Revolution net in front of their excited home fans.
Goalkeeper Preston Burpo, also acquired this summer from the Rapids with Gibbs and a third-round pick, had another strong outing between the posts for the Revolution. He made a number of big saves early in the game as D.C. United tried to put the Revolution away like the Los Angeles Galaxy did a week ago. Burpo controlled the pace of the game when he got the ball and challenged each cross with purpose and poise, knocking balls out of play and making United’s strikers rethink their shots.
D.C. United enjoyed the majority of possession throughout the game, but the likes of Santino Quaranta, Chris Pontius and Jamie Moreno (MLS’s all-time leading goal scorer) were unable to crack the New England defense as it would not break and allow any of them to get through on a free run towards net.
The Revolution were barely able to get the ball out of their own half during the first half, but they marked well and played a good, clean, physical game with the D.C. United attacking players, forcing them into cramped space and a short field.
Rookies Continue to Make an Impact
Steve Nicol continued to rely on the Revolution’s talented group of rookies against D.C. United. Seth Sinovic and Zack Schilawski both made their second starts of the season and both contributed to the Revolution’s winning effort. Fellow rookie Zak Boggs came on during the second half of the game as he did against the Galaxy a week earlier.
Sinovic has looked comfortable as the Revolution’s starting left-back. He looks cool, confident and composed in his first two starts – and hasn’t been beaten by the challenges he has faced. His crosses are getting better and his controlled tackling is smart, and effective. He’s been a great addition to the Revolution’s defensive core and he can only get better at 21-years-old.
Schilawski had another good game at striker. He played deeper than his partner Kheli Dube, coming back to get the ball, hold up play and help the defenders and midfielders clear the ball from the Revolution end. He didn’t get the ball in any dangerous space, but he did do a good job of keeping play under control and helping the team recoup after one of many D.C. United attacks.
Boggs came on as substitute in the second half again and played under the radar. But he worked hard on the right side of the midfield. He tracked back into good defensive space, marked his man and made good runs on the attacking third into open space. Although he didn’t get many touches on the ball, he did open up space for other players around him and allowed Kevin Alston to roam forward a few times into the attack.
The Revolution will likely need Boggs, Sinovic, and Schilawski to keep playing well and improve to make a run in the MLS playoffs at the end of the season.
The Revolution have their first home game of the year next weekend, April 10, against the winless Toronto F.C. at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Eli Rosenswaike helped contribute to this article by editing it. Check out his blog about baseball, The Baseball Bum.