FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution kicked off a season-long three-game home-stand on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium hoping to take maximum points from the early-season opportunity. The Colorado Rapids made sure that wasn’t the case.
Mehdi Ballouchy opened the scoring in the 14th minute and Pablo Mastroeni capped it in the 73rd minute, cancelling out Marko Perovic’s first goal for the Revolution – a dazzling 30-yard free kick which curled into the upper right corner – as the Rapids claimed a 2-1 win.
The victory was the second straight for the Rapids (3-1-1, 10 pts.), who at least temporarily moved into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference. The Revolution (2-3-0, 6 pts.), meanwhile, fell to its second straight defeat after starting the season by winning two of its first three matches.
New England’s starting lineup included one change from last weekend’s 2-0 loss in San Jose, with Kheli Dube returning to the starting 11 and Chris Tierney going to the bench. Perovic – who played as a withdrawn forward in San Jose – took over for Tierney on the left wing, while Dube joined Zack Schilawski up top. Shalrie Joseph missed his fourth game of the season as he continues to recover from a right hip flexor strain.
Colorado boasted two former Revolution players in its lineup, as both Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson – swapped for Cory Gibbs and Preston Burpo in the offseason – earned starting nods.
The Rapids controlled the tempo early and the visitors were rewarded for their pressure with the game’s opening goal in the 14th minute. Ballouchy was allowed space to burst down the middle of the park and with Pat Phelan draped on his shoulder, Ballouchy unleashed a right-footed shot from 30 yards. The effort wasn’t hit particularly hard, but it was well-placed and settled just inside the left post.
It took just four minutes for the Revs to respond with the equalizer, as Perovic curled home a 30-yard free kick to put himself in the running for MLS goal of the week. Sainey Nyassi was fouled off the ball by Marvell Wynne to set up the chance and Perovic made the most of the opportunity, blasting a left-footed rocket into the roof of the net.
As the first half wore on, the game developed into a frantic back-and-forth pace with both teams looking threatening. Colorado hit the post on two separate occasions in a seven-minute span, beginning with Larentowicz’s long-range, 26th-minute effort which kicked off the left stick before being cleared to safety. Ballouchy hit the same post in the 33rd minute with an audacious, looping bicycle-kick attempt, while Burpo had to be alert to save Conor Casey’s close-range rebound.
At the other end of the field, Dube had a free header from eight yards in the 40th minute – a result of a right-wing cross from Nyassi – but his effort was directed right at Pickens and the teams settled for going into the half at 1-1.
The Revs came out the brighter side to start the second half and twice tried their luck from distance. Schilawski blistered a 20-yard shot just wide of the left post 30 seconds after the break, while Phelan tested Pickens with a drive from 30 yards out in the 60th minute.
New England made the game’s first two substitutions midway through the second half, and they were both attack-minded. Edgaras Jankauskas – returning from a right calf strain – made his 2010 debut by replacing Schilawski in the 62nd minute, while Khano Smith came on in place of Dube in the 70th minute. The second move pushed Perovic into a withdrawn forward role, while Smith took over on the left wing.
In spite of the substitutions, it was Colorado which scored the decisive goal in the 73rd minute through Mastroeni. Omar Cummings’ left-wing cross was brought down by Casey in the box, and the hulking forward laid the ball into the path of Mastroeni as he charged forward. Striking the ball first time from 30 yards out, the Rapids’ captain blasted his effort off the inside of the right post and into the net.
The Revs reacted to going behind by switching to a more attack-minded 3-5-2 formation in the 78th minute. Forward Kenny Mansally replaced left back Seth Sinovic to necessitate the move.
Jankauskas came closest to nicking the game-tying goal for the Revs with a 20-yard drive in the 85th minute, but his effort – which proved to be the last of the game – sailed high and wide.
The Revs will continue their three-game home-stand on Saturday, May 1, when they host FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m.
New England Revolution (2-3-0, 6 pts.) vs. Colorado Rapids (3-1-1, 10 pts.)
April 24, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
COL – Mehdi Ballouchy (unassisted) 14
NE – Marko Perovic (unassisted) 19
COL – Pablo Mastroeni (Conor Casey) 73
New England Revolution: Preston Burpo (GK), Kevin Alston, Cory Gibbs ©, Darrius Barnes, Seth Sinovic (Kenny Mansally 78), Sainey Nyassi, Pat Phelan, Joseph Niouky, Marko Perovic, Zack Schilawski (Edgaras Jankauskas 62) Kheli Dube (Khano Smith 70)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth (GK), Nico Colaluca, Michael Videira
Shots: 13; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 14
Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens (GK), Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor (Scott Palguta 88), Danny Earls, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni ©, Wells Thompson, Conor Casey (Colin Clark 73), Omar Cummings
Substitutes Not Used: Ian Joyce, Claudio Lopez, Quincy Amarikwa, Julien Baudet, Ross LaBauex
STATS: Shots: 10; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 4; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 9
NE – Pat Phelan (caution) 48
COL – Pablo Mastroeni (caution) 66
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: Thomas Supple, Brian Poeschel
Fourth Official: David Gantar
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 68
- The New England Revolution drops to 11-17-7(8-6-4) all-time against the Colorado Rapids and is winless against Colorado in its last five matches … the Revs’ last win over the Rapids came in a 1-0 victory at home on Sept. 29, 2007.
- The Revolution suffered its first home loss of the season and now sits at 1-1-0 at Gillette in 2010.
- Saturday marked the first time in four matches a game between the Revs and Rapids did not end in a 1-1 tie since Apr. 12, 2008, a 1-0 Colorado win.
- The Revolution ran out a different lineup from last week … Kheli Dube returned to right forward while Marko Perovic slid back to midfield in place of Chris Tierney.
- Nico Colaluca and Edgaras Jankauskas were activated for their first games of 2010, after missing the first four games of the season with injuries … Jankauskas came on for Zack Schilawski in the 62nd minute.
- All four players involved in the offseason trade between New England and Colorado were in tonight’s starting lineup … Preston Burpo and Cory Gibbs for New England; Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson for Colorado.
- Marko Perovic tallied his first career MLS goal on a free kick in the 19th minute.
- Perovi?’s free kick goal in the 19th minute was the Revs’ first from a set piece in 2010, and the club’s first goal in the first half this season.
- The Revolution switched to a 3-5-2 in the 78th minute when Kenny Mansally entered the game … Jankauskas and Mansally were the two forwards while Perovi? played in the attacking midfield role.