FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Defender Kevin Alston scored the first goal of his professional career and the New England Revolution made a frantic late push for an equalizer, but in the end a pair of second-half goals from Miguel Sabah were enough to earn Mexico’s Monarcas Morelia the SuperLiga 2010 title with a 2-1 win on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium.
Sabah converted a penalty kick in the 65th minute and scored what proved to be the game-winner with a sublime full volley in the 75th minute, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead heading into the final 15 minutes. Alston pulled one back for the Revolution in the 79th minute, but Morelia held off a late surge to protect the one-goal lead and claim its’ first-ever SuperLiga title.
It was the third triumph for a Mexican team in SuperLiga’s four-year history, as Morelia joined Pachuca (2007) and Tigres UANL (2009) as SuperLiga champions. The Revolution (2008) is the only MLS team to win the competition and was unsuccessful in its bid to become the tournament’s first-ever two-time winner.
This was the Revolution’s first-ever loss to a Mexican side in SuperLiga play, dropping the club’s record to 7-1-1 against teams from south of the border.
Alston (L hamstring strain) and goalkeeper Matt Reis (lower back pain) both returned to the starting lineup after they were unavailable for last weekend’s loss to the Philadelphia Union, while Kheli Dube made his first appearance since July 20 after missing four weeks with a right knee sprain. A natural forward, Dube started at right midfield in place of Sainey Nyassi, who – along with teammate Kenny Mansally – was away on duty with the Gambia National Team.
Both teams were a bit disjointed in the opening stages as the players worked themselves into the flow of the title game. Morelia threatened first in the 19th minute when Luis Gabriel Rey was played through by Hugo Droguett, but Reis came well off his line to close down the angle and kick away a low shot. Three minutes later, Marko Perovic narrowly missed the upper right corner with a 25-yard free kick for the Revolution.
The game opened up a bit as the first half wore on and Morelia began to push the tempo. The visitors came inches from taking the lead in the 25th minute when Ismael Pineda’s 25-yard rocket rattled the crossbar, and then Sabah flashed a tight-angle shot just wide of the far post four minutes later.
Morelia hit the woodwork yet again in the 32nd minute as the Mexican side continued to press – this time Mauricio Romero finding the crossbar with a firm header direct from a corner kick – but the Revolution tightened up sufficiently enough to send the game into halftime scoreless.
The Revs began the second half livelier and created their best chance to that point in the game in the 57th minute. Chris Tierney’s clever header played Dube through on goal and the Zimbabwean dribbled in alone, but Morelia goalkeeper Federico Vilar charged off his line to make a sliding save before Ilija Stolica’s follow-up attempt drifted wide.
Morelia responded with a quality chance four minutes later when Sabah ran onto a through ball and rounded Reis, but the Revs’ goalkeeper did enough to force the Morelia forward wide and the chance went begging.
Sabah didn’t have to wait much longer to put his name on the score sheet, however, as he converted a penalty kick in the 65th minute to give Morelia a 1-0 lead. Darrius Barnes was stripped of possession in the box by Rey, who was then pulled down by Barnes as he turned toward goal. Sabah stepped up to bury the spot kick right down the middle.
New England responded to going down a goal by making three immediate substitutions and switching to a 3-5-2 formation. Roberto Linck, Khano Smith and Zack Schilawski all entered the game, replacing Dube, Tierney and Emmanuel Osei, respectively.
As the Revs pushed forward in search of an equalizer, it was Morelia which struck to double its lead to 2-0 in the 75th minute. Barnes’ clearing header fell perfectly to Sabah 25 yards from goal, and the 29-year-old unleashed a wicked full volley which dipped just under the crossbar.
New England pulled one back just four minutes later, however, with Alston finishing a fine piece of inter-play which also involved Schilawski and Shalrie Joseph. Alston and Schilawski combined on a one-two 25 yards from goal and Alston surged into the right side of the box before coolly slotting a low shot inside the far post.
Sabah was ejected in the first minute of stoppage time when he received his second yellow card for diving, and the Revs had one last chance when a hopeful ball into the box fell to Cory Gibbs with the last kick of the game, but his volley was struck directly at Vilar and the final whistle blew to crown Morelia SuperLiga champion.
The Revs return to league action on Saturday, Sept. 4, when they’ll welcome Seattle Sounders FC to Gillette Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
SuperLiga 2010 Final
New England Revolution vs. Monarcas Morelia
September 1, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
MOR – Miguel Sabah (Penalty Kick) 65
MOR – Miguel Sabah (Unassisted) 75
NE – Kevin Alston (Zack Schilawski) 79
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (GK), Cory Gibbs, Darrius Barnes, Emmanuel Osei (Zack Schilawski 71), Kevin Alston Chris Tierney (Khano Smith 70), Pat Phelan, Shalrie Joseph ©, Kheli Dube (Roberto Linck 70), Marko Perovic, Ilija Stolica
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Tim Murray, Nico Colaluca, Seth Sinovic
STATS: Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 6; Corner Kicks: 2; Offside: 6; Fouls Committed: 9
Monarcas Morelia: Federico Vilar (GK), Enrique Perez, Fernando Salazar, Francisco Dorame, Mauricio Romero ©, Ismael Pineda (Luis Noriega 76), Hugo Droguet, Jaime Lozano, Miguel Sabah, Luis Gabriel Rey (Rafael Marquez Logo 88), Elias Hernandez (Luis Silva 94+)
Substitutes Not Used: Jesus Urbina, Miguel Sansores, Angel Sepulveda, Jose Cruzalta
STATS: Shots: 17; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 3; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 4; Fouls Committed: 18
MOR – Miguel Sabah (caution) 39
NE – Darrius Barnes (caution) 65
MOR – Jaime Lozano (caution) 85
NE – Pat Phelan (caution) 86
MOR – Jaime Lozano (caution) 88
MOR – Miguel Sabah (second caution/ejection) 91+
Referee: Carlos Batres
Referee’s Assistants: Hermenerito Leal, Gerson Lopez
Fourth Official: Elmar Rodhas
Weather: Clear and 87 degrees
- The loss dropped the Revolution’s all-time SuperLiga record to 8-2-4 in three years of SuperLiga competition …additionally, New England lost its first SuperLiga match to a Mexican club, moving its record to 7-1-1.
- Kheli Dube made his first appearance since the SuperLiga group stage on July 20 against Morelia … Dube has missed the last seven matches with a right MCL sprain.
- Dube made his first professional start at right midfield in his 13th-career SuperLiga appearance … that ties Dube for the most appearances all time with teammate Kenny Mansally and Morelia’s Luis Gabriel Rey.
- Midfielder Sainey Nyassi and forward/midfielder Kenny Mansally missed the game because they were called up to the Gambia National Team … Mansally misses the opportunity to take the all-time lead in SuperLiga appearances, as he remains tied with Houston’s Bobby Boswell with 13 SuperLiga appearances … Nyassi is tied for fifth with 12 appearances.
- Midfielder Nico Colaluca was available for his first match since the July 2 trip to Real Salt Lake … he had missed the previous 11 games in all competitions with a right ankle sprain.
- The referees’ alignment was changed for the second half … fourth official Elmar Rodhas replaced Carlos Batres at center referee, and Batres moved to the fourth official.
- Morelia’s 65th-minute goal was scored via a penalty kick, the first in a Revolution game this season in all competitions.
- The penalty kick was the first in a Revolution game in nearly a year … the last penalty kick in a Revolution game came on Oct. 3, 2009 in Colorado.
- New England made three substitutions in minutes 70 and 71, and switched into a 3-5-2 alignment … Cory Gibbs, Darrius Barnes and Kevin Alston stayed along the back line, Khano Smith, Pat Phelan, Shalrie Joseph, Roberto Linck and Marko Perovic in the midfield (Perovic playing withdrawn forward), and Zack Schilawski and Ilija Stolica up front.
- The Revs goal scored in the 79th minute was tallied by Kevin Alston – his first goal in a Revolution uniform … rookie Zack Schilawski assisted on the goal – his first assist on the professional level.
- The Revolution kept its consecutive games scoring streak alive on Wednesday … New England has now not been shut out in 11 straight matches in all competitions.
- The Revs wore all white at home this season … the club did wear white shirts and blue shorts for a friendly match against Cruzeiro on June 13.