FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Last weekend, the New England Revolution put together one of its better performances of the season but failed to find the back of the net in a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids.
The Revs lacked a similar quality in possession on Saturday night against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but a staunch defensive effort and a successful 49th-minute penalty kick from Shalrie Joseph was enough to secure the desired three points with a 1-0 victory.
“The first half, particularly, was certainly not our best as far as [possession] was concerned,” said head coach Steve Nicol, who named his ninth different starting lineup in the 10th game of the season. “When you give the ball away, then you put yourself under pressure and just encourage them.
“But we won,” he added. “We’re excited to win the game.”
Victory didn’t arrive with ease, however, as a largely second-choice Vancouver lineup put forth an unexpected fight after making the cross-continental journey on Thursday. The Whitecaps played to a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night at Empire Field.
The visitors actually outshot the Revolution by a margin of 6-3 in the first half – including 4-0 in efforts on target – and could’ve gone into the halftime break with a lead were it not for a fantastic stop by Matt Reis on rookie Omar Salgado’s long-range drive in the 44th minute.
“Give Vancouver credit,” said Benny Feilhaber, who was fouled by Whitecaps defender Wes Knight to set up Joseph’s penalty kick. “They’ve had a tough week, but they came in here and hustled, ran around a lot and made it difficult for us.
“I think they even had a little bit better of the game in parts of the first half,” Feilhaber admitted. “But I do think that as the game went on, we improved and started getting a little bit more dangerous plays closer to their goal.”
After a pedestrian opening stanza, the Revs began the second half with a renewed energy and were rewarded for their endeavor four minutes after the break. A long throw-in from Darrius Barnes was half-cleared to Feilhaber, who eluded Knight and was clipped as he shaped to shoot.
Joseph stepped up to register his team-leading fourth goal of the season, burying the spot kick low inside the left post.
“I knew what corner I was going,” Joseph said. “I had it picked out already in my mind. I just wanted to put it there low and hard.”
It appeared as if the Revolution doubled its lead in the 55th minute when Feilhaber deftly chipped Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly after being played through by Rajko Lekic, but the goal was disallowed as Feilhaber was ruled offside.
Replays indicated Feilhaber was level with the last defender.
“That should have been 2-0 right there,” said Feilhaber. “That would have made the game easier. We didn’t create too many chances, but we took advantage of one today, and that was the difference.”
Regardless of the final score, the Revs left the Gillette Stadium field with their third victory of the season in tow. According to Nicol, it was nothing less than they deserved.
“I think we deserved to win the game,” he said. “We won, and we move on.”