By Ryan Fleming
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution know how rough it can be to to play without their leader – their star – Shalrie Joseph. Dallas doesn’t know how it feels to win a game yet this season. Saturday night, both teams battled to a 1-1 tie in an attempt to, if not to end, at least shore up their woes.
Dallas dominated every aspect of the game, peppering New England goalkeeper, Preson Burpo with 10 shots in the first half and 12 in the second. Helping hold the struggling Revolution back was referee Jeff Gontarek who, a bit card happy, lifted 12 different cards including 10 yellows.
Before the misconducts began to appear, the Revolution (2-3-1, 7 pts.) jumped ahead in the 41st minute, turning a seemingly harmless, fundamental play, into a sly goal.
Kheli Dube, who was shown the red card in the second half, pressured Dallas (0-1-4, 4 pts.) keeper Dario Sala while he tried to corral a loose ball.
Sala made an effort to shield the ball from the New England Forward, but Dube proved too quick. He stole the ball, danced around the back line before sliding it to an onrushing Zack Schilawski. The rookie finished – getting to the ball before a defender.
Sala and teammate George John were shown yellow for dissent after jogging out to Gontarek and verbally showing their displeasure with the call. Both thought Dube played the ball out of bounds.
“Our team works hard. We work hard every day,” Dube said. “Everybody works hard for everybody, and that’s what I did today. I got a chance to work hard and make a play and it happened to be a goal.”
The second half started similar to the first, with Dallas controlling play. Ten minutes into the half, the game transformed. Dube was shown red for his late challenge on Dallas defender George John. Dube’s late challenge was enough for Gontarek to show the red to the former first-round pick.
“We saw studs exposed, knee locked, directly into the other player’s leg,” Gontarek said. “Serious foul play”.
In the 67th minute, the Hoops finally found the back of the net. Immediately following Revs midfielder Joseph Niouky’s booking, Atiba Harris converted on a Dax McCarty free kick.
McCarty’s free kick was 25 yards out to Burpo’s left. Harris leaped, nearly unmarked, given free space to the goal. Burpo, who played stellar all game had no chance at the save.
Minutes later, it began to unravel for the Revs. Niouky was also shown red five minutes after the goal for an alleged stomp on defender Heath Pearce, putting the Revs down two men with a little less than twenty minutes to play.
From that point on it was goal prevention time for the Revs. They cleared balls, blocked shots, parried scoring chances and had a bit of luck on their side for the duration of the game.
Dallas’s best chance came from Brek Shea who missed a sitter in stoppage time, sending the ball soaring over the post, missing the empty left side of the net.
Gontarek continued to hand out four more yellows, but the Revs continued to repel the Hoops.
“Effort-wise tonight – absolutely fantastic,” head coach, Steve Nicol, said about his team’s play in the second half. “What more can you say? Nine men? They had a couple of chances, but you should when you have a two-man advantage.
“The back four were solid and did a decent job, threw themselves in front of shots – you name it. Everybody played their part.”
Ryan Fleming is an editor and contributing writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.