By Kevin Koczwara
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Steve Nicol became one of only three coaches with 100 wins as a manager in the MLS, joining Sigi Schmid and Bob Bradley as the Revolution won 4-1 over Toronto F.C. (0-2-0, 0 pts) in the team’s home opener.
Nicol would need some help to get that win as the Revolution found themselves down 1-0 in the 28th minute when Toronto’s Dwayne De Rosario scored the game’s first goal after heading in a well placed cross from Nick Garcia from 15-yards out from goal.
The Revolution (2-1-0, 6 pts) showed good build-up play and controlled play in the first half of the game for the most part, but they found themselves behind at half because of De Rosario’s perfectly placed header that got past Revolution goalkeeper Preston Burpo. De Rosario’s goal was his third goal against the Revolution in as many games.
Toronto hadn’t enjoyed much possession and hadn’t tested Burpo with more than a few crosses into the box that the keeper controlled easily. Despite his goal, De Rosario didn’t enjoy much of the ball in any free space because the Revolution marked the veteran midfielder well, not allowing him long on the ball, or any space to create havoc on either flank. Seth Sinovic and Chris Tierney were doubling him on the left flank for most of the night, isolating the Toronto play-maker, forcing him to work extra hard to get the Toronto attack moving.
“He [Nicol] stresses, more than anything, finding ourselves in the right spots, tucking in when we have to,” said Seth Sinovic, Revolution defender. “If the ball was played over to De Rosario, then close him down, limit him and contain him as much as we can.”
With the 1-0 lead going into the half, Toronto looked posed to wait out the Revolution’s struggling attack and head home with their first win of the season. “We just came out of the locker room thinking that we already won the game,” said Toronto head coach Preki. “I tried to warn them in the half time the game was 90 minutes.”
On the other side of the field Nicol stressed that the Revolution had the better chances in the first half, and in the second they would have more, but they would have finish them.
“He [Nicol] felt that our effort was there and the chances were there,” said Sinovic. “But we just needed to convert and keep pushing.”
The Revolution kept pushing and Zach Schilawski made sure he finished off his chances in the second half.
Schilawski made his name known to the Revolution’s home crowd in the Revolution’s first game at home. Schilawski showed why the Revolution drafted him with the ninth pick in the 2010 MLS Super Draft from Wake Forest. Each of his three goals came because he found space in the attacking third and finished in almost surgeon-like fashion in front of net.
Schilawski’s first goal came from a great cross from Sainey Nyassi in the 47th minute that Schilawski slotted in to the bottom left corner, beating Swiss-born Stefan Frei. Nyassi later tallied his second assist on Schilawski’s third goal.
Schilawski’s second goal came only four minutes later when he stole the ball from veteran defender Nick Garcia in the Toronto defensive half and carried it in on net, beating Frei easily.
But the rookie wasn’t done. Schilawski would get his third, and final goal, seven minutes later as the Revolution counter-attacked. Shalrie Joseph, who has been recovering from a hip flexor strain, got himself into the game in the second half and put in the best through ball of the night to Kheli Dube, who crossed the ball into the box to the streaking Schilawski. The youngster finished off the chance with his third goal of the night in the 58th minute.
Nyassi finished off the scoring with the Revolution’s fourth goal in the 66 minute when he picked off a scuffed pass by Toronto rookie Joseph Nane, playing in his first MLS game. Nyassi made sure to finish off his opportunity for his first goal of the year, and his goal ended Toronto’s chances of a comeback at that point.
Schilawski’s hat trick took only 11 minutes and was only the third in MLS history by a rookie, and the second from a Revolution player– the other was Pat Noonan in ’03 against the New York Metro Stars (now the New York Red Bulls). His goal scoring prowess was just one of the reasons why Nicol and the Revolution front-office staff selected the talented forward with their first round pick. After tonight Schilawski is sure to look forward to giving the fans and the front office another glimpse at why they will not regret that decision.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at email@example.com. Ryan Fleming contributed to this article.