By Melissa Turtinen
Foxborough, Mass. — It wasn’t pretty and they didn’t play well. But, the New England Revolution left Saturday night’s game with three points and that’s all that matters.
“Truth be told, we didn’t play well, we didn’t pass the ball well,” said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Saturday’s game. “I think the biggest thing was we didn’t have any legs tonight. And consequently, we didn’t pass it well and we didn’t play well, but what we did do was we stuck at it and we got a goal.”
The Revolution defeated D.C. United, 1-0, on Aug. 7. The lone goal came in the 42nd minute after Pat Phelan headed in Chris Tierney’s free kick from near midfield. Phelan flicked the ball into the inside post.
“I started in an offside position and came back onside,” Phelan said about his goal. “When my man didn’t follow me, I was kind of in the middle of the goal, and just had to deflect it one way or the other. I was able to get a good read on it and it went in. It was all Chris. I just had to not mess it up, really.”
After three seasons with the Revolution, the midfielder finally notched his first career MLS goal.
“[Phelan] got on the end of it and put it away well. It’s probably his last for the season. But regardless, we’ll take it,” Nicol said with a chuckle.
Both teams started slow, but it seemed that D.C. United (3-13-3) had an edge on the Revolution (5-9-3) in terms of ball control. Throughout the first half, each team took turns attacking, with a few free kicks thrown in the mix. Neither team had any real chances to put one away until the Revolution notched the only goal of the game right before half time.
In the second half, United controlled the tempo of play once again. The Revolution looked stale when it came to their offensive advances and they were lucky that United didn’t press as hard as they needed to for an equalizer.
“We kept them out. We did okay,” Nicol said. “They were sharper than us, but they didn’t play a semifinal on Wednesday night. So we did what we had to do. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the three points and we’ll take three points every week regardless.”
The Revolution entered Saturday’s game after a penalty-kick win on Aug. 4 over Mexican Primera División club Puebla F.C. to advance to the finals of the SuperLiga.
United, who played their first game under interim coach Ben Olsen, extended their winless streak to seven games, while the Revolution extended their unbeaten streak to seven games.
Next up the Revolution host Houston Dynamo on Aug. 14 at 8 p.m.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made a season-high six saves and earned his second regular-season shutout in the 1-0 win over United … With Kevin Alston and Marko Perovic out of the lineup due to injuries sustained during the semifinals of SuperLiga, the Revolution saw two new faces on the field during the second half – Serbian forward IIija Stolica, who arrived in Boston from Belgrade on Friday, and Roberto Linck, who joined the Revolution on July 30 from Romania’s CSM Râmnicu Vâlcea.
Melissa Turtinen is a contributing writer for The Soccer Guys.