Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Game 2: Revs Trounce Toronto FC, 4-0

When Taylor Twellman scored two-thirds of a hat trick before the game clock reached the 20 minute mark, Revolution fans must have liked their club’s chances of winning the match early on. Sure enough, the Revs justified those sentiments by obliterating expansion Toronto FC 4-0 Saturday night.

The Revs first goal came courtesy of a sweet sequence in the 12th minute. Twellman passed to rookie Adam Cristman, who then returned the ball back faster than a fruitcake at Christmas on a beautiful 1-2 pass to Twellman, who found the back of the net. 1-0 home side, just like that. Goal number one of the season for Taylor, but the occasion was even more exceptional for the rookie, as Cristman recorded his first MLS point on the assist.

To be a goal-scoring master, you must have a nose for the ball. And good. But not in that order. Mere minutes later, Twellman once again found himself on the end of another well-placed ball, courtesy of a Steve Ralston cross from the right wing. Twellman proceeded to bang home the goal in the 18th minute. Taylor Twellman 2, Toronto FC, 0.

The nickname-less Toronto FC looked disheveled often in the first half, as they played like a group that had just been formed fairly recently. Who would have thunk it?

Toronto midfielder Alecko Eskandarian, lined up a shot in the 36th minute that sailed just above the crossbar, out of the reach of a man to who is dead to him, Matt Reis.

(For those of you unfamiliar with the context of that assertion, here is the biased, Cliffs Notes version: In 2005, Eskandarian, while playing for DC United, tried to play the ball in the New England box at the same time as Reis. The result of the encounter was a connection of Reis’ knee to Eskandarian’s melon. Esky would be forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the seasons, and berate Reis later on, calling him a “cold soul” and stating that Reis “was dead to [him].”)

Back to Saturday Night…with the Revs entering the half with a 2-0 goal lead, one could only wonder what defensive tricks manager Steve Nicol would have up his sleeve against good friend and managerial counterpart Mo Johnston in the 2nd frame. Whatever tricks Nicol employed on good ol’ Mo’s squad worked to perfection, as the Revs continued to suffocate the Torontonians (?) attack for the most part, as the Canadians had fewer chances than at scoring than Screech on Saved by the Bell.

In the 61st minute, Shalrie Joseph, inactive for the opening season tilt last week in Chi-town, scored on a penalty kick goal, after Cristman was tackled in the box. The streamers and glitter flew from The Fort with merry cheer and joy soon thereafter. On paper, it was simply 3-0. In the annals of Revolution soccer history, it was franchise goal number 499…

Would goal 500 – highly-anticipated, much-hyped and grand prized goal prominently featured on the club’s official site –occur on this cloudy, cool April 14th night? Surely, you could feel the anticipation. There was a buzz among the 18,184 spectators. The air densely packed with highly-charged electrons. The lighthouse graphics shone just a bit brighter. The question would grip the minds of many: Would this be the night?

The answer to this question came in the 72nd minute, when Captain Ralston bumrushed the Toronto goal, and just when it looked like he lined up his shot, he deferred to his left to find a hard-charging Andy Dorman bursting through the seams of the box. Wham, bam, thank you, Dor-MAN. With Goal 500 securely in the books, the navy and went on to win its first match of the infant 2007 season.

Stat of the Match, Part One: With his two-goal effort, Twellman placed himself in a tie for fifth place in the MLS record book with 13 multiple-goal games.

Stat of the Match, Part Two: On Saturday vs. Chicago, Nicol started three rookies – Wells Thompson, Gary Flood, and Cristman. This week, only Cristman survived the cut as part of the game’s starting eleven.

Stat of the Match, Part Three: The Revs scored on 50% of their shots on goal (8 shots, 4 goals)

Stat of the Match, Part Four: Although the Revs were in control for a large portion of the match, Toronto actually tallied two more corner kicks than New England (6-4)

Sweet Play of the Match: The Steve Ralston distribution to the onrushing Andy Dorman in the box, netting the fourth goal of the game. The pass had yours truly shouting for 2.41 seconds “Why are you pass-?” before Dorman launched it past keeper Greg Sutton. This incident proves one thing: don’t ever question the wisdom of one Steve Ralston.

Sour Play of the Match: In the 57th minute, Toronto midfielder Paulo Nagamura committed an unconscionable foul on Adam Cristman in the Toronto box, leading to Shalrie Joseph’s PK goal in the 60th minute. The foul was completely unnecessary, as Nagamura essentially threw his arm over Cristman’s shoulder while both were in the box, as the ball was yards away, heading in the direction of the New England side of the field.

The Beckham-Effect arrives early in Foxboro: With 18,184 paid spectators in attendance for the home opener, the most since its 2002 home opener, one can only promulgate the theory that Beckham may have had his hand in on this grand success. How so? Well, the Revs ticket office, in a grand scheme to capitalize on Beckhamania, declined to offer stand-alone tickets to the August 12th Becks/Galaxy affair. Instead, it offered what was dubbed “the Beckham Four Pack”, which required those who wished to purchase tickets to the Gals game to also purchase tickets to three other matches, including Saturday night’s opener. Marketing 101, pure and simple, kids.

Before you know it, domestic animals will be sponsored: Saturday night’s match marked the first match in which the Revs played an opponent that had a corporate tattoo emblazoned on its chest, in place the traditional club wordmark. BMO Bank, which also effectively tagged itself upon the name of the club’s home pitch, BMO Field, apparently poured enough cash into the expansion club that the franchise promised the Canadian banking corporation front-of-the-shirt sponsorship rights. Toronto not only became one of the first MLS clubs with this type of sponsorship (Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles and New York being the others), but the first expansion team to ever make a cash-splash with the bold sponsorship deal.

Give Us a Nickname…Please! In an attempt to perhaps “Europeanize” itself, the Toronto franchise also became the first MLS club to establish itself without nickname. Simply put on paper, the club is Toronto FC. However, according to chatter among Toronto-based internet fan boards, the club has been dubbed the “the Reds”, in recognition of the team’s primary color.

Sure, she’s cute - but do they know about her past? In between chart-topping singles, Foxboro Resident JoJo took the time to incorporate herself into the home-opening festivities. Talk about convenience. JoJo, who appears on the popular MTV video request show TRL, shot to musical stardom after releasing teeny-bopper hit “Leave (Get Out)” in 2004. After a couple of other adolescent youth anthems, it appears JoJo appropriately enough appealed to the soccer-playing youth in attendance that night to the chorus of screaming girls left over from the previous US WNT-Mexico match. If they only knew that the TRL star used to date Freddy Adu.

Watch out for the static electricity: Watching from the colorful confines of Section 104, so close to field level you smell the fresh carpet, one could not help but notice the hypnotic spin the adidas Teamgeist ball took on several occasions due to said sythentic fibers. Although the passes were noticeably quicker on the fake stuff than usual, one could not help but be entranced by the dearth of randomly spinning balls outside the touchlines.

Somewhere, the Tea Men are smiling: The game was the first top-tier soccer game in New England played on artificial turf since the New England Tea Men of the NASL last played on the unforgiving SuperTurf surface of Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium back in 1980. Now if we could only get the Revs to sport those garish yellow and red Tea Men kits as a tribute to their NASL predecessors...

Gimme the good (fake) stuff: Taylor Twellman has expressed his displeasure with the artificial surface on a few occasions, and yet, Twellman scored his first two goals of the season on the very surface. While it would be incredulous to suspect he will maintain this rate given the tiny sample size, could one ascertain that with a faster surface thus resulting in quicker passes - especially inside the box - that Twellman's overall game could actually be enhanced by the combination of futuristic synthetic blades and microfiber pellets?

Yeah, but how good is he at Keno? As previously mentioned, the Revs promoted the 500 cumulative franchise goal mark by sponsoring a contest to see who could predict the player who would score the very goal, the game in which it would occur, and the minute of the game in which it would occur. Amazingly, Revs fan Chris Agrela correctly predicted exactly how it happened! Chris, there’s this grand multi-state lottery game called Powerball, to which your talents could prove quite useful for.

US Women’s National Team Player Feature: For those of you who didn't know, one of the most recent additions to the National Team has been forward Lauren Cheney. According to her ussoccer.com profile, the Indianapolis native “enjoys shopping and watching movies.” Anyway, during manager Greg Ryan’s US-Mexico pre-match interviews last Friday, Ryan stressed the need for the team to find goal sharks not named Lilly or Wambach. Cheney must have been listening nearby, as she proceeded to answer the call and scored during her second National Team appearance Saturday. Two caps, one goal. Not bad, rookie.

Join us after the Revs-Crew match – a Thursday Night special – as we discuss Eric Wynalda, ESPN, and the spiffy new graphics package “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” has in store for us.


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