By Kevin Koczwara
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite a horrific injury to starting goalkeeper Preston Burpo, the New England Revolution were able to get their first win since their home opener on April 10, when they beat Toronto FC. The Revolution defeated the New York Red Bulls, 3-2, last night with goals from Marko Perovic, Zack Schilawski and an own goal by Red Bulls defender Tim Reams.
The Revolution opened the scoring in the 8th minute when Shalrie Joseph opened up the Red Bull defense with a through ball over the top of their backline into the path of a streaking Marko Perovic. Perovic slotted the pass into the back of the net on a half-volley, beating New York’s keeper Bouna Coundou
Joseph’s weighted pass fell to the feet of a wide open Perovic because of off the ball movement by forwards Zack Schilawski and Kheli Dube, opening the space for Perovic to slot in and receive the pass unmarked inside the box..
“Great movement tonight off the ball,” said Joseph. “I just wanted to dink it in there for Marko on the first one [goal]. He did it all by himself, off his weaker foot a great finish.”
The goal was Perovic’s second of the year and his first from the run of play.
New York wouldn’t be held down for long as they responded in the 20th minute with a goal from Seth Stammler. Stammler capitalized on a turnover by Kevin Alston in the Revolution half of the field and a great pass from Roy Miller. Miller found Stammler inside the box and Stammler slotted home a curling shot to the far post. The goal was Stammler’s first in two years, his last goal was on June 18, 2008 when he scored against the Revolution.
It took only minutes for New England to respond and take the lead again.
New York conceded their second goal of the first half when New York defender, Tim Ream, headed a Seth Sinovic cross into the net in the 24th minute. Sinovic gained the touchline and sent in a whipping cross to the back post, and Reams tried to send it over the bar to clear the danger for the Red Bulls, but he misplayed the ball into the net.
Tragedy would strike the Revolution before they could close out the first half with a lead. Preston Burpo, the New England goalkeeper, was having a strong game in net for New England, but he would not see the game through in net.
A through ball was played to New York striker Dane Richards and Burpo made a play on the 50-50 ball just outside the 18, sliding in to clear the danger. Burpo would not get up after the challenge because of a severe lower-right-leg injury. He would have to be carried off the field by a stretcher then sent directly to Mass General Hospital for further evaluation.
“It was just horrific. It was emotional to start off with,” said Joseph about the injury to Burpo. “A lot of the guys just turned around and started crying. I didn’t start crying, but Preston [Burpo] was so brave; he came out and sacrificed his body for the team. I just wanted to go over there and console him and hold his hand and tell him how much we really appreciate what he’s doing.”
There was a game to still be played after the injury to Burpo. Bobby Shuttleworth came on for Burpo.
Shutteworth, a second year goalkeeper out of the University of Buffalo, had never played a minute in the MLS and had only made his Revolution debut a few weeks back in a U.S. Open Cup match against New York in a losing effort, 3-0.
After half-time break, New York came out the better side, creating chances and eventually leveling the score in the 49th minute with a clinical header by Juan Pablo Angel. Angel was able to score his fifth goal of the season when New York defender Danleigh Borman sent in a cross towards the back post.
New York’s momentum after the goal was short lived as Carlos Mendes received his second yellow of the match in the 55th minute, resulting a red card and a sending off.
Mendes was making his first start of the year for New York because Chris Albright refused to play on the turf of Gillette.
Mendes had a tough time handling New England’s speedy Serbian winger, Perovic. Mendes was issued a yellow card in the first half for pulling down Perovic from behind and then was sent off because of a late challenge from behind on Perovic that could have been a straight red card if the player had not already had a yellow.
The game got chippy after the sending off of Mendes. New York was trying to regroup while being down a man with 25 minutes left to play. New York was able to hold off New England and create a few chances of their own on the counter until the 75th minute when they had another player sent off.
Roy Miller was shown a straight red card for an incident with Revolution midfielder Zak Boggs. Miller appeared to make contact with Boggs’ face with a fist while going up for a header in the midfield. It was bad luck for both Miller and the Red Bulls. New York was now down to nine men with 15 minutes to play.
Zack Schilawski would put the finishing touches on the match in the 80th minute when he headed in his fifth goal of the season. Shalrie Joseph found some space just beyond the 18 yard box and chipped a ball into the streaking Schilawski, who knew what to do from there as he headed the ball into the near post, giving the Revolution a 3-2 lead.
New England snapped a seven game losing streak with the win, but the injury to Burpo was what was on the players minds after the game.
“[Preston Burpo’s injury] is awful to see,” said New England midfielder Chris Tierney. “It really rocked us. It definitely did for a while, but we came together as a team and decided there were two ways to react to it. One, you can think about it and sob for him, or you can play on and win the game for him. That’s what we decided to do.”
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at email@example.com.