By Ryan Fleming
FOXBOROUGH — It’s been said, but a year can make the difference. For the New England Revolution, a year means another chance at putting a frustrating, lackluster season behind, and improving to 1-0-1 on the year, isn’t a bad way to start.
The Revs (1-0-1, 4 pts.) defeated DC United, 2-1, in their home opener, in front of nearly 13,000 supporters, showing their supporters that perhaps this year will be a bit different.
“It’s huge,” midfielder Pat Phelan said when describing the importance of the win. “There are so many doubts coming into the season off of our results from last year. Would we have enough quality to get the points?
“And it’s still really early in the season and we shouldn’t be holding our heads too, too high, but we are flying high and we’re excited now. We’re looking forward to next week.”
Similar to last week’s game in LA, New England didn’t wasteany time in making its mark on the score sheet. In the eighth minute the dependable Shalrie Joseph launched a 40-yard ball ahead to Zach Schilawski, the lone Revolution forward, who continued to pester DC throughout. Charging in the box, the ball seemed to bounce up, clearly hitting his hand, then after returning to the ground, the forward volleyed the ball past United’s keeper Pat Onstad while no whistle was given.
New England extended its lead just eight minutes later after referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot after Phelan was fouled by United (1-1-0, 3 pts.) defender Kurt Morsink. A livid Onstad confronted Toledo, earning himself a yellow for dissent then had the ball ricochet off him into the net on the ensuing Joseph penalty, the midfielder’s second goal of the season.
At halftime, United coach Ben Olsen mixed up his team, bringing Charlie Davies and Fred to the action, switching to a more aggressive formation with three defenders. For a while Nichol and his revamped defense did an immense job in containing United youngster Andy Najar and shutting down United’s main attacking focus, Davies. The combination of AJ Soares and Franco Coria proved useful and efficient once again. The two along with Didier Domi and Kevin Alston on the wings, repelled constant assaults and deflected incoming crosses back outside the box.
The Revs midfield also bettered United’s. Phelan and rookie Stephen McCarthy bossed around the midfield, using their physical style and size to their advantage – proving quite useful after the arrival of Davies.
“It was definitely tough, especially toward the end,” McCarthy said after the game. “I’m really glad we pulled it out … It was a battle, definitely in the middle. I think it was very hard fought.”
United made the closing moments interesting. After Davies converted on a penalty awarded on a foul by Ryan Cochrane. DC continued to push, but again, the Revs proved resilient, holding on to the win. Proving that yet again, this year could be different.
New England takes on Portland next Saturday at Gillette.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at email@example.com.