Lineup switch lifts Revs past Quakes

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New England notches two late goals to extend winning streak
08/30/2009 01:56 AM
By Kyle McCarthy / Staff

OXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The first UGH, Mass. -- The first half wasn't exactly what the New England Revolution had in mind as they carried a two-match winning streak into Saturday night's 2-1 win against San Jose.

All of the things that New England had done to achieve those wins against Seattle and Real Salt Lake last week -- tidy passing, opportunistic finishing and cohesive defending -- weren't on display. But for a few timely misses from the Earthquakes, the Revs would have entered the break down.

"We weren't too happy about our first half," Revolution midfielder Wells Thompson said. "We wanted to go out there from the start and get after it. We struggled a little bit. (Revolution coach Steve Nicol) just tried to calm us and get us together. We weren't down at half. The game wasn't over. We had another half to go out and give it to them. That's what we did."

Nicol made a couple of early switches in the second half, sending on Sainey Nyassi and Pat Phelan in place of Mauricio Castro and Kheli Dube. The moves were designed, Nicol said, to aid the Revolution's hold up play with midfielder Shalrie Joseph shifting into a target role.

"We were trying to get a lot more numbers up," Joseph said. "Our problem in the first half, and a little bit to start the second, was that when we got the ball up into the attacking third, it wasn't sticking."

The ball didn't need to stick for the Revolution's opener as Joseph flicked on Matt Reis' long clearance into the penalty area for Steve Ralston to chip over Earthquakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

"I was just trying to run off of it," Ralston said. "Shalrie makes a big difference. Kheli worked his butt off up there and was challenging everything, but I guess he doesn't have the body to win balls over their center back, who's a big guy. Shalrie was able to do that. He was able to hold the ball for us, and it made a big difference. On that specific play, I just tried to time it right and get off the center back's back shoulder. And the ball just sat up perfectly for me."

Ralston turned provider six minutes later when he set Thompson free down the right side and allowed him the opportunity to take Earthquakes left back Ramiro Corrales one-on-one. Thompson elected to cut inside onto his left foot and unleashed a stunning effort into the far upper left corner to double the Revolution's lead.

After pointing out that he had struggled with indecision over the past few weeks, Thompson said he wanted to do a better job of making the right choices. The decision to go for goal instead of cut towards the end line stemmed from another area he wanted to improve.

"One thing I've been trying to do is shoot out a little bit more," Thompson said. "It workedhompson said. "It worked out."

Earthquakes midfielder Ramon Sanchez grabbed a consolation goal in second-half stoppage time, but that wasn't enough to put a damper on the Revs' third consecutive win on a dreary night in suburban Boston. New England's first three-game winning streak since May 2008 ensured it would end the weekend in third place in the Eastern Conference.

Thompson said his team can point to its positive response after the difficult start as the reason why it managed to achieve the result it needed.

"That's the great thing about soccer," Thompson said. "It's a 90-minute game. You can beat the other team for 80 minutes and still lose the game 3-0. We just had to keep our heads in it and stay positive, and contain and push forward. And when Steve (Ralston) got that goal, and we didn't want to stop there."


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