By Kevin Koczwara
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution opened their SuperLiga campaign on a high note by beating Mexican side Pumas UNAM, 1-0, at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday night. It was the Revolution’s second shutout victory in a row in all competitions — they defeated MLS’s top team, Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night, 2-0, in league play.
New England put themselves into a good position in Group B’s standings with the win over PUMAS. The Revolution are second in the group, trailing Mexican side Morelia (1-0-0, 3 pts.) because of goal differential after the Monarcas beat Chicago Fire, 5-1.
Neither the Revolution nor PUMAS got into a groove in the first half as it was lethargic, sloppy and helter-skelter. The sole action of the first half was the game-winning goal from Revolution rookie Zack Schilawski.
Schilawski found space at the back post of the PUMAS net while making a run into the box during a Marko Perovic corner kick. Perovic put the ball into the box with his left foot from the right corner flag, swinging the ball towards the net, with enough pace and power for Schilawski, who only had to lunge out in mid-air and redirect the kick into the back of the PUMAS net.
The wet playing surface from the rain earlier in the day had its hand in the lack of chances and sloppy play in the first half. Passes skipped and skidded past players and bounced off the wet turf.
The second half was a different story. Both sides made changes at the break that allowed the game to open up and get a rhythm. Speedster Sainey Nyassi came on for a lucky Kenny Mansally who made it out of the first half without a red card but had his fair chances of picking up a second yellow after he received one in the 11th minute. PUMAS replaced Jehu Chiapas with Martin Bravo to start the second half.
The visitors attacked the Revolution net trying to equalize the score and sneak out of Foxborough with a draw or win. New England looked tired and started to open up a bit as the pace of the game quickened.
“We kind of ran out of steam in the second half,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol. “We put a lot into Saturday (a 2-0 win against LA). When you go ahead, you tend to sit back a little bit and make sure you don’t give anything away. But I think more than anything we ran out of steam in the second half.”
PUMAS looked to have even the score in the 52nd minute when substitute Bravo headed home a cross at the back post of the Revs net. Unfortunately for PUMAS, Bravo was ruled offside when it looked as though he was behind the last Revolution defender when the cross was played into the box.
The Revolution’s win was the team’s second in a row, something they have only done once earlier this season, and should give the team momentum going into Chicago for Saturday’s SuperLiga match with the Fire.
“[The win is] definitely something to build on and to go into Saturday against Chicago, though you’ve got to remember it’s a different tournament and it’s a different opponent we played tonight,” said Revolution center-midfielder and captain, Shalrie Joseph. “It still feels good to get a win at home. Still a lot of things we need to work on to be a better team, but tonight we got a victory and Zack [Schilawski] scored a brilliant goal and we’ll move on from there.”