CHICAGO – Saturday night’s 1-1 draw between the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire was another physical battle in a long line of physical battles between the two clubs.
No one embodied that spirit more than Revs center back Antonio Delamea, who required “three or four stitches” after an early clash of heads with Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic. The collision forced Nikolic out of the game and left Delamea playing with a makeshift head wrap for much of the first half.
Because of the location of the cut – on top of Delamea’s head – the athletic training staff had to apply the wrap a bit differently, pulling the tape underneath his chin to hold it in place, like something of a bonnet.
It did the trick until the stitches could be applied, but it also made for quite the interesting look.
“When I saw a picture of myself, it was just so funny,” Delamea said after the game. “I looked like a guy that had not a headache, but a toothache. But I’m okay. I got three or four stitches, but all good.”
After the clash of heads Delamea not only had to deal with the cut, but also powerful Fire forward Alan Gordon, who replaced Nikolic in the 20th minute. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Gordon is a physical force whose style differs greatly from that of the 5-foot-11 Nikolic.
“It changed a lot about his runs behind our backs, because we knew that Gordon is not the type of guy who’s going to be making runs behind our backs,” Delamea said. “He’s just more of a target man to hold up the ball, so we were more tight-marking him and trying to close him down to prevent him from playing these balls back and making the space for other teammates.”
Delamea and the rest of the Revolution backline did a solid job of minimizing Gordon’s influence, limiting him to just 14-of-22 passing and preventing him from getting a touch inside the penalty area.
“Very, very good,” head coach Brad Friedel said of Delamea’s performance. “When Gordon came on, he’s been around the league for a long time; outstanding in the air, very good pro, very difficult to play against, and I thought Toni did very well against him.”
Delamea’s efforts helped the Revs secure a point in Chicago before they’ll head directly to the West Coast for a Wednesday night visit to Avaya Stadium and the San Jose Earthquakes.