By Stephen Canning
The New England Revolution played the role of spoiler Sunday night, beating the Kansas City Wizards 1-0, ending their chances of making the playoffs. New England captain Shairie Joseph scored the only goal of the game and the Revolution won its home finale in front of a crowd of 18,298.
“It’s always fun to play spoiler,” said New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth who earned his third career win.
Shuttleworth played well, and the team recorded its first shutout since a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on August 14.
“He was solid as a rock,” said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol.
Kansas City (10-13-6, 36 pts.), in need of the win to keep their playoff chances alive, opened the game strong and controlled much of the tempo. However, it was New England (9-15-5, 32 pts.) who had the best chance early on. Joseph struck the post on a low drive after a give and go from Marko Perovic.
Joseph would get a chance to better his goalscoring record in the 31st-minute when Revs defender Chris Tierney picked him out streaking down the middle of the field with a long ball, Joseph knocked the ball around Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and placed the ball into the empty net.
“Chris played me a great ball over the top,” said Joseph. “I noticed he [Nielsen] was coming off his line a lot.”
The Revolution defense did well to cope with the Wizard’s attack and limited them to mostly long range efforts, most of which went well wide of the net.
“They were in a position they needed to win,” said Revolution defender Seth Sinovic. “We tried to stick with them as much as we could.”
Kansas City had a couple good opportunities to level, but shots from Roger Espinoza and captain Davy Arnaud both went just wide.
“We showed a lot of heart and defended well as a team,” said Joseph.
Although Kansas City needed two goals to make the playoffs, the start of the second half was relatively quiet. However, a flurry of activity in the 67th-minute saw Josh Wolff head one directly to Shuttleworth, Espinoza get booked for a reckless tackle, and Teal Bunbury hit the crossbar from close range.
Revolution player Kenny Mansally received a yellow card in the 78th-minute yet another reckless tackle as the game became increasingly rougher.
The Wizards wasted their final chance in stoppage time off a direct kick, as Revolution defender Emmanuel Osei brought down a Kansas City player and got a yellow for his efforts.
“We wanted to finish a strong note.” said Sinovic.
Joseph was happy with the victory, but still disappointed that the team didn’t reach the already thinking about next season.“I look forward to 2011 because I see we have a lot of youth here,” said the captain. “But we are going to enjoy this one tonight.”
- With the win over Kansas City and the win over Houston last weekend, the Revolution won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-August when the Revs beat D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo at home, 1-0.
- New England finishes its 2010 home slate with a 7-5-3 record in MLS play (9-8-4 overall).
- Shuttleworth recorded his first clean sheet of his MLS career and his third career victory.
Stephen Canning is a contributing writer for the Soccer Guys Online.