Revolution 1, Monarcas Morelia 0

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution needed only a draw against Mexican Primera División club Monarcas Morelia to clinch first place in Group B of SuperLiga 2010. Instead, the Major League Soccer club went one better and claimed a 1-0 victory on Tuesday night at Gillette Stadium to round out the group stage of the competition with a perfect record.

With the win, the Revolution (3-0-0, 9 pts.) took the top spot in its SuperLiga group for the third straight year and will now host a semifinal match during the first week of August against the second-place finisher in Group A. New England’s opponent could be Mexican side Puebla or MLS rivals Chivas USA or the Houston Dynamo.

Morelia (1-1-1, 4 pts.) will now have to wait until the conclusion of the evening’s other game between Pumas UNAM (0-1-1, 1 pt.) and the Chicago Fire (0-2-0, 0 pts.) to discover their fate in the tournament.

The only goal of Tuesday night’s game was scored in the 62nd minute by Marko Perovic, who has now scored three goals in the Revolution’s last four games. Goalkeeper Matt Reis made three saves to record his second consecutive shutout, while the Revs have now racked up four straight clean sheets and a 365-minute shutout streak in all competitions.

With a spot in the semifinals already secured prior to Tuesday night, Revs head coach Steve Nicol opted for a cautious approach in keeping Shalrie Joseph and Sainey Nyassi out of the lineup, as both would’ve been suspended for the semifinal had they received a yellow card against Morelia. Defender Kevin Alston also sat out as a precaution after experiencing tightness in his hamstring, while Kheli Dube was handed a start up front as Zack Schilawski went to the bench.

Also not in the lineup was midfielder Steve Ralston, who retired from professional soccer in a press conference immediately after the game. It was believed Ralston would be able to play in one final match for the Revs after recovering from a dislocated left elbow, but an administrative issue prevented Ralston from taking a final bow. Instead, he served as the team’s honorary captain and was introduced prior to kickoff.

The Revolution’s makeshift lineup was under siege from Morelia in the opening stages, with Rafael Marquez Lugo particularly dangerous for the Mexican side. Lugo scuffed a seventh-minute shot when he was open in the box, then connected on a 14th-minute drive which dipped just over the bar.

Much like they did last weekend in Chicago, the Revs overcame their shaky start and slowly began to work themselves into the game as the half progressed. Although they didn’t create any clear-cut chances –Chris Tierney’s 43rd-minute free kick which sailed just out of Kheli Dube’s reach was the best opportunity – the Revs had to be encouraged by the improvements made heading into the half.

New England’s improvement continued into the second half and the home side’s increased pressure finally led to a breakthrough in the 62nd minute. Dube occupied a trio of Morelia defenders as the ball bounced high in the box, and a rushed clearing header fell directly into the path of Perovic in the left side of the box. The Serbian stepped into a left-footed shot and lashed home at the near post, giving Morelia goalkeeper Jesus Urbina no chance.

Dube almost doubled the Revolution’s lead just two minutes later when his attempted cross sailed toward the net, but Urbina was alert to palm the ball away.

Morelia responded by upping the tempo at the other end of the field and threatened to level the score in the 69th minute. A low, right-wing cross bobbled its way to Lugo at the near post, but Reis reacted well and smothered the first-time shot. Eight minutes later, Jaime Lozano’s corner kick found Mauricio Romero open in the box, but Romero’s header was comfortably saved by Reis.

Just seconds later, the Morelia defense fell asleep and Dube was allowed to break in alone on goal, but his curling shot was tipped around the post by Urbina.

The visitors had one last chance to level the score in the 86th minute, but Romero’s free header from six yards out sailed over the top of the net.

Before the Revs participate in the SuperLiga 2010 semifinals in early August, they’ll briefly return to league action for their first-ever meeting with the expansion Philadelphia Union on July 31. Kickoff from the Union’s recently-opened PPL Park is set for 3:30 p.m.

SuperLiga 2010

New England Revolution (3-0-0, 9 pts.) vs. Monarcas Morelia (1-1-1, 4 pts.)

July 20, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)

Scoring Summary:

NE – Marko Perovic (Unassisted) 62

New England Revolution: Matt Reis © (GK), Seth Sinovic, Darrius Barnes, Emmanuel Osei, Chris Tierney, Khano Smith, Pat Phelan, Joseph Niouky, Kenny Mansally, Marko Perovic (Zack Schilawski 82), Kheli Dube

Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Tim Murray, Michael Videira

STATS: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 3; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 13

Monarcas Morelia: Jesus Urbina (GK), Adrian Garcia, Mauricio Romero ©, Enrique Perez, Ismael Pineda (Jorge Gastelum 59), Luis Noriega (Aldo Ramirez 77), Jaime Lozano, Adrian Aldrete, Miguel Sansores (Miguel Sabah 53), Rafael Marquez Logo, Elias Hernandez (Rodolfo Vilchis 75)

Substitutes Not Used: Carlos Rodriguez, Luis Silva, Hugo Droguett, Aldo Ramirez 

STATS: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 4; Corner Kicks: 5; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 20

Misconduct Summary:

MOR – Adrian Aldrete (caution) 41
MOR – Rafael Marquez Lugo (caution) 49
NE – Darrius Barnes (caution) 57
NE – Seth Sinovic (caution) 84
MOR – Adrian Garcia (caution) 89

Referee: Elmer Rodas
Referee’s Assistants: Ariel Mendez, Ronaldo De La Cruz
Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 78 degrees
Attendance: 8,173

NOTES:

  • With the win, New England wraps up its SuperLiga 2010 group stage competition with a 3-0-0 record and sweeps the group stage for the first time in three appearances … the Revs completed the group stage in 2008 and 2009 with a 2-0-1 record.
  • The Revs won their SuperLiga group for the third straight year.
  • The Revolution is now 11-2-1 all time against Mexican clubs and won its first ever game played against Monarcas Morelia … the team also moved its record to a perfect 7-0-0 against Mexican clubs in SuperLiga play.
  • Marko Perovic picked up a point in his fourth straight game in all competitions … he has tallied three goals and an assist during the run.
  • All four of Perovic’s points during the consecutive game run have been game-winning tallies.
  • New England became the only team in the SuperLiga 2010 group stage to shut out all three teams it played.
  • The Revolution recorded its fourth consecutive shutout in all competitions and has not allowed a goal since the 85th minute of its 5-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on July 2 …Revs keepers have gone 365 consecutive minutes in all competitions without allowing an opponent to score.
  • Matt Reis recorded his second consecutive clean sheet in SuperLiga play and third in the last four games of all competitions … Bobby Shuttleworth picked up the other shutout on July 14 in the 1-0 win over Pumas UNAM in the SuperLiga 2010 opener.
  • Reis is now 8-1-2 with six shutouts all time in SuperLiga play good for a .818 win percentage.
  • Defender Kevin Alston was a late scratch with hamstring tightness.
  • Kenny Mansally made his 12th-career start in SuperLiga competition to take the all-time lead in that category, one ahead of Pachuca goalie, Miguel Calero … Pachuca, however, is slated to play Chivas USA tomorrow night, where Calero would pull even with Mansally.
  • Chris Tierney made his first start of the season at right back, the fourth different position he has started at this season … the versatile left footer has played right back once in 2010,when he was moved there in the season opener at LA Galaxy (March 27) during a second-half substitution.