By Ryan Fleming
When a team’s best player is missing from injury, it needs to find a way to play without him – to close the hole as best it can and as soon as it can. Without Shalrie Joseph the New England Revolution are trying to close the gash in their ship before it sinks. Right now, their midfield is barely staying afloat.
The Revolution fell to the Colorado Rapids, 2-1, Saturday night – again demonstrating their midfield woes. But despite the loss there is a sense of pride throughout the team.
“I mean I’m disappointed in the result,” rookie Zack Schilawski said. “I think we’re showing signs of being a pretty deep team once we get everything together.”
At times the midfielders looked lost, taking over each other’s responsibilities, certainly confused. Throughout the game, New England defenders struggled clearing the ball, almost being relaxed and timid when in reality a certain urgency should have taken over.
The Revs (2-3-0, 6 pts) went down early in the 13th minute after a missed opportunity that could have sent New England ahead for the first time since the team’s win against D.C. United on April 3rd.
After making space on the left wing, rookie defender Seth Sinovic sent a beautiful cross that found Sainey Nyassi streaking toward the Colorado goal. Nyassi, trying to strike the ball in the air, one-timed the shot over the bar just feet from Colorado keeper, Matt Pickens.
When Pickens gathered the ball, he dished it off to a nearby defender, who slid the ball to Mehdi Ballouchy. Ballouchy galloped up-field, streaking by New England defenders, then sent a low shot from right outside the box past New England’s keeper, Preston Burpo.
The Revolution, though, showed some mettle. Battling back to tie the game at one just four minutes following Colorado’s tally. Nyassi was fouled by a Colorado defender, setting up new signing, Marko Perovic, to take the free kick five yards outside the box. The former Red Star Belgrade player lofted a spinning ball past Pickens to even the score. Perovic, who was brought to New England from Swiss club FC Basel for his play-making ability, scored his first MLS goal, but, like his some of his teammates, looked isolated and ineffective.
Despite playing on his normal left side, Perovic couldn’t get anything going offensively. Colorado’s defense played tough throughout the night, forcing Revolution attackers to the outside, to cross balls in the box instead of attacking the center of the field. Perovic was moved up in more of an attacking role after the Revs found themselves down a goal, with little effect on the outcome.
In the second half, the Rapids owned most of the play. Colorado (3-1-1, 10 pts) capitalized on their offensive opportunity in the 73rd minute, when Pablo Mastroeni sent a rocket past the Revolution keeper.
U.S. international Conor Casey controlled the ball in the middle of the box, positioning himself so he had a clear view of Mastroeni’s run. Casey slid a soft pass in the midfielder’s route and, without stopping his progress, he shot the ball past a diving Burpo.
“Their long range shots had better luck than ours,” Burpo said. “You can see Conor [Casey] holding the ball up, Pablo’s tailing, [Casey] does a good job at laying the ball off and at that point we’re trying to step up on it, but at that point Pablo’s got a clear shot – it’s in.”
New England tried to fight it’s way back even for a second time, but its shots were blocked, Colorado’s defense stood tall, minimizing the Revolution’s chances and extending their losing streak to two games going into next weekend’s game against Western Conference power, LA Galaxy.
Ryan Fleming is an editor and contributing writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.