By Cory Ritzau of Prost America
CARSON, Calif. – The New England Revolution came into the Home Depot Center for their season opener and were fortunate to earn one point after a soggy, 1-1, tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy in Southern California. An early Sharlie Joseph goal could only be equalized by the hosts, as three separate times the Galaxy had apparent goals called back by the referee.
The season could not have started any better for the Revolution. New England got on the board in the 3rd minute with a Joseph header, taking an early 1-0 lead against the LA Galaxy.
After a giveaway by Leonardo in the early going, Zack Schilawski got tangled with the Galaxy defenders but did well enough to earn a corner. The ensuing corner by Marko Perovic was cleared back to his feet and his second cross found Joseph sliding behind the defense unmarked for an easy header to the back of the net.
After some good pressure late in the first half the Galaxy equalized off a Juninho blast reminiscent of his game winner last Tuesday in Seattle. In the 39th minute he collected a poor clearance from AJ Soares and continued to add insult by driving a hard shot off the back of Soares, deflecting past Matt Reis to tie the score at one.
In the 17th minute, Reis came off his line attempting to grab a David Beckham in-swinger near the penalty spot. With the rain and wind at full force, Reis appeared to have the ball squirt through his mitts and the ever-opportunistic Juninho was right there to poke the ball into the net as soon as the ball fell to the field. But in the eyes of the referee a foul had been committed in the area and the Revolution escaped with some dubious help. As expected, postgame sentiments differed on the decision.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was not shy with his postgame assessment, “You can’t reward the goalkeeper for dropping the ball. I don’t understand that one at all.”
His counterpart, Steve Nicol, was especially coy about the call when asked if his goalkeeper was fouled, “Oh obviously, because the referee gave it to him so he must have been. You know we’re looking as though we kind of got away with one.”
Nicol was right in his assessment of the call. The manager went on to point out that over the course of the season these things have a way of balancing themselves out.
The Revs were well organized and kept their defensive shape, especially in the second half. They often kept 10 men behind the ball and were content to let the Galaxy maintain possession on the periphery, but did well to thwart any real threats posed by the Galaxy in the final 3rd. The Revs’ centerbacks, Soares and Coria, were very vocal and proved successful in handling the onslaught of Beckham crosses flung their way in spite of the sloppy conditions.
Joseph was pleased with what he saw from his Revolution teammates, “I think we definitely limited their chances, even though David Beckham had a couple of crosses here and there, and Donovan created a couple of chances. But at the end of the day we got out of here with a point.”
With the exception of one Joseph shot that found the post, the Revs were unable to muster much of an attack, but seemed content to head home taking one point from one the leagues top teams.
Nicol summed up his thoughts by adding, “We’re happy with the result, and it was a real team effort today.”
Cory Ritzau is the Los Angeles correspondent for Prost America.