By Melissa Turtinen
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With a 1-0 win over Monaracas Morelia on July 20, the New England Revolution secured the top spot in Group B in the SuperLiga.
The Revolution only needed a tie to advance to the semifinal round in the tournament, but after winning the group stage they have secured a home game in early August.
“It’s huge,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said about gaining home-field advantage in the semi-final round. “Obviously, it’s good to win, but certainly it means more games, and the fact that we’re at home will give us more juice for the MLS games.”
The Revolution took a 1-0 lead with a goal from Marko Perovic and an undocumented assist from Kheli Dube – Dube ran into the box after the ball drawing three Morelia defenders to him. Morelia’s Adrian Garcia Arias headed the ball away from the cluster to a wide-open Perovic. Perovic struck the ball out of midair from the left side for the goal in the 62nd minute.
Without Dube drawing in the defenders, Perovic wouldn’t have had a clear path to the goal. Perovic’s goal was his third goal in four games, his fourth point in as many games.
The Revolution began the match slow, unable to maintain possession and struggling to get the ball passed half field. Morelia was controlling play and not giving the Revolution a chance to do anything but defend.
But, after the 31-minute mark, the Revolution began to build possession and put pressure on Morelia. The second half began just as slow – both teams struggled to maintain possession for an extended period of time or create any sort of scoring chances.
“We started off a little timid,’’ Nicol said. “I think as the game grew, we got better.’’
Perovic’s goal picked up the pace for the remainder of the match. Morelia and the Revolution were both taking turns putting pressure offensively, creating scoring opportunities, but neither team notched another goal for the remainder of the match.
This was the third straight year the Revolution has taken a top spot in the group stage of SuperLiga. The win also makes New England undefeated at home against Mexican SuperLiga opponents (7-0-0).
The Revolution also said goodbye to Steve Ralston in Tuesday night’s matchup, but Ralston was unable to play due to paperwork.
“I had hoped to [play tonight], especially after doing all the rehab and wanting to get on the field and play in front of the crowd one more time,” Ralston said as he officially retired from the Revolution. “I would have loved to have that opportunity. But things came up, unfortunately, that we didn’t know about, and just deemed that it couldn’t happen.”
The Revolution take the field again on July 31 at Philadelphia Union and continue their SuperLiga run at the beginning of August.
Melissa Turtinen is a contributing writer for The Soccer Guys.