FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Serbian forward Ilija Stolica scored his first career MLS goal in his first start, guiding the New England Revolution to a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Stolica’s goal arrived in the 62nd minute and proved to be the moment of quality needed to separate the sides on a night when scoring chances were scarce at both ends of the field. Houston outshot New England by a 12-11 margin, but the Dynamo only put two of its shots on net, while the Revs found the target three times.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis needed to make just two saves to record his second consecutive shutout.
The Revs (6-9-3, 21 pts.) continued their climb up the Eastern Conference standings with the win and are now unbeaten in their last eight games (6-0-2) in all competitions, including four games (3-0-1) in league play. Meanwhile, Houston (5-10-5, 20 pts.) remains winless in its last 10 league games (0-6-4), a club record.
There were two changes to the Revolution side which beat D.C. United 1-0 last weekend, with Marko Perovic returning from a left calf strain to partner fellow Serb Stolica up top. Those moves pushed forwards Kenny Mansally and Zack Schilawski to the bench. New England’s back four remained the same, but with a reshuffling of positions. Darrius Barnes partnered Emmaneul Osei in central defense, with Cory Gibbs on the left and Chris Tierney on the right.
Neither team was particularly sharp in the first half as both sides struggled in possession, but Perovic was active early in his first game since Aug. 4. He almost latched on to Shalrie Joseph’s cutting through ball in the 11th minute, but Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall charged off his line to cut out the danger.
Each side managed six shots – two on target – in the opening 45 minutes, but none of those attempts ever seriously looked like finding the back of the net. Houston’s best chance in the first half came in the 44th minute through Brian Mullan, who freed himself 20 yards from goal but fired his shot over the bar.
The first 15 minutes of the second stanza looked much like the first, but the crowd was brought to its feet in the 62nd minute when Stolica broke the deadlock with a stunning finish. Sainey Nyassi’s low, hard cross into the middle found Stolica, who used his first touch to turn and his second to lash home a shot inside the left post from 20 yards out.
Khano Smith came inches from doubling the Revolution’s lead in the 75th minute when fantastic buildup play from Stolica and Joseph sent the Bermudian into the left side of the box, but his blast sliced just past the upper corner.
After playing back-to-back games at home, the Revs will now be on the road for five of their next seven league contests, beginning with a two-game swing through Chicago and Kansas City next week. The road trip will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 18, with a visit to Toyota Park and the Chicago Fire, and will finish on Saturday, Aug. 21, at CommunityAmerica Ballpark against the Kansas City Wizards.
New England Revolution (6-9-3, 21 pts.) vs. Houston Dynamo (5-10-5, 20 pts.)
August 14, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
NE – Ilija Stolica (Sainey Nyassi) 62
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (GK), Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Darrius Barnes, Chris Tierney, Khano Smith (Roberto Linck 84), Pat Phelan, Shalrie Joseph ©, Sainey Nyassi, Marko Perovic (Jason Griffiths 91+), Ilija Stolica (Kenny Mansally 77)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth (GK), Tim Murray (GK), Zack Schilawski, Seth Sinovic
STATS: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 6; Offside: 4; Fouls Committed: 9
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall (GK), Brian Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Andrew Hainault, Richard Mulrooney, Lovel Palmer, Anthony Obodai (Cam Weaver 77), Danny Cruz, Corey Ashe (Joseph Ngwenya 46), Brian Mullan, Brian Ching ©
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Onstad (GK), Eddie Robinson, Ryan Cochrane, Dominic Oduro, Sammy Appiah,
STATS: Shots: 12; Shots on Goal: 2; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 11; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 10
HOU – Danny Cruz (caution) 41
NE – Khano Smith (caution) 41
HOU – Anthony Obodai (caution) 77
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Cyril Madukanya
Fourth Official: Chris Penso
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 73 degrees
- The win improved the Revolution’s record against the Houston Dynamo to 5-1-3 all time, and 3-1-2 at home … New England avenged its only loss to Houston that came last year at Gillette Stadium.
- The Revs now have an eight match unbeaten streak in all competitions, the club’s longest such streak since New England began the 2005 season without losing a game in the first 11 matches … the Revolution is 6-0-2 in all competitions since July 10.
- Former Revolution great Steve Ralston was honored before the game in his first appearance at Gillette Stadium since he announced his retirement on July 20 … Ralston is now an assistant coach with the Houston Dynamo.
- Forward Ilija Stolica made his first start in a Revolution uniform … Stolica got the nod in place of an injured Kheli Dube and Zack Schilawski.
- Stolica struck for his first MLS goal in the 62nd minute from the top of the box when he took a pass from Sainey Nyassi … the goal proved to be the game-winner.
- Sainey Nyassi picked up his second assist of 2010 when he found Ilija Stolica at the top of the box in the 62nd minute … the assist was Nyassi’s first since the Revolution’s home opener on April 10 in a 4-1 win over Toronto.
- Matt Reis shut out the opposition for the second straight match and for the fifth time in seven appearances this season … Reis lowered his goals against average to 1.17 on the year.
- The Revs picked up their second straight 1-0 win and now have three on the season … New England is now 3-5-0 in one-goal games and was 1-5-0 in those close matches until Aug. 7.
- Chris Tierney started at right back on Saturday night, marking the fifth different position he has started at this season … Tierney has now started 16 MLS matches in 2010 – eight at left midfield, three at central midfield, four at left back and one at right back.
- Roberto Linck made his second appearance in a Revolution uniform … Linck also appeared as a second-half substitution in last week’s win over D.C. United.
- Jason Griffiths made his first appearance for the Revs in over a month, since he left the match against LA on July 10 with a hamstring strain … Griffiths replaced Marko Perovic in the first minute of stoppage time.