Revs beat Atlante in semis; will face Dynamo for third final in two and a half years.
Last Wednesday, the Revs defeated their newest rival, Club Atlante of Cancun, Mexico, 1-0 in the Super Liga semi-finals.
The two sides met earlier this year in a pre-season "friendly," but the game ended up anything but. Because it was a preseason game, there was no limit on the number of substitutes available to each side. Atlante used that to their advantage, making 10 substitutions in the second half, playing a total of 21 different players. The Revs ended up having eight players cautioned and two players ejected in a 1-0 loss.
This time it was New England who would win the battle on the field, in the scorline, and in the referee's book as well.
Atlante started very strong and showed their attacking prowess, testing Matt Reis on a few occasions with legitimate scoring opportunities. The Revs, employing a 4 man back line, weathered the attack as they had done with the other Mexican teams they faced in the tournament. The Revs then began to assert themselves in the midfield, with Shalrie Joseph, Sainey Nyassi, and Kheli Dube clearly making their presence felt by the visiting team, with Dube putting a number of chances off the woodwork or over the bar. In the 30th minute, it was Shalrie Joseph who connected at the end of a free kick from Steve Ralston, heading the ball in to the upper right hand corner, over the hands of the outstretched Atlante keeper and captain, Federico Vilar.
After a strong start to the second half and having the majority of the posession, Atlante resorted to "very aggressive play" (for lack of a less derogatory term) when the Revs started to re-assert their control over the match. Dube nearly connected with Mansally, who should have scored, but put his shot from point blank range well over the bar. Khano Smith also launched a shot off the rebound of a Shalrie Joseph rocket which veered wide of the goal.
The match turned more into a roller derby in the later part of the second half, with Atlante clearly being the aggressors. It was obvious to anyone who saw the game that Atlante was trying to provoke the Revolution into retaliating, in the hopes of getting one of the Revs ejected and gaining a man advantage. However, that strategy, which may have worked for Atlante in the preseason, backfired on them resulting in the ejection of Columbian striker Luis Gabriel Rey.
Later in the game, Atlante subs who were warming up behind Matt Reis actually jumped over the barrier when Revs players confronted Daniel Arreola for not playing the ball out when a Revs player was down up field. Surprisingly, the referee took no action against the players illegally on the field, and then allowed the Atlante captain Vilar time to return to his goal when the Revs were ready to play.
In the final minutes, a second caution resulted in the ejection of Atlante's Alan Zamora, and tempers began to flare. The final whistle did not come soon enough, and even as the match ended, the Revs were accosted by several of the Atlante players, including Vilar, resulting in more cautions and ejections for Revs defender Jay Heaps and Vilar himself.
But that did not stop the heated brawl on the pitch. Both benches cleared and players from both sides were getting at it. Coaches and Staff were trying to restrain the players until Security made it's way to the field. But it didn't stop there either. Atlante Players and Staff were antagonizing Revolution players and Security. One of the Atlante coaches was going after Khano Smith, and Vilar had to be restrained from attacking a stadium official.
New England and Atlante may meet again later this summer in the CONCACAF Champions League. If the Revolution win their matches against Joe Public FC of Trinidad and Tobago, both Atlante and New England will be in the same qualifying group. New England would then travel to Atlante on Tuesday, Sept. 30, while the Revolution would host the return leg on Tuesday, Oct. 21.
Rematch for Redemption
The Revolution got their revenge on Atlante. Now it's time to get their revenge on their MLS rivals, The Houston Dynamo.
Tonight, the Revolution host their new nemesis in MLS Cup Finals competition at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The Dynamo will be playing on short rest (played over the weekend) and without defender Eddie Robinson as well as midfielder Richard Mulrooney. The Revs defense will be without Olympian Michael Parkhurst and the suspended Jay Heaps, but will look to the revitalized bench and Pat Phelan to partner with Jeff Larentowicz in the back line if they play a 4-4-2. Twellman and Cristman are also available.
Predicted lineup for the Revolution:
Shalrie Joseph - Beast of the East
Where would the Revs be without the most feared central midfielder in MLS. For the second straight game in the tournament, Shalrie Joseph has scored the decisive goal. The first was the tying goal against Chivas USA, earning the Revs a draw and guaranteeing them a spot in the Semi-Finals. The second was the only goal scored in the semis against Atlante. Both goals he scored with his head.
In between the two games, Shalrie started for the MLS All-Star team against West Ham United; and although he didn't win the award this year, he was clearly man of the match in the eyes of many pundits around the world, once again raising speculation as to Shalrie's future in the MLS and whether he will finally find himself playing for a European side.
In my most humble opinion, I would sooner sell Taylor Twellman and use the money to sign Shalrie as a designated player, rather than risk losing him to an overseas club. Taylor may be the face of the franchise, but Shalrie is the backbone.