Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday Morning Striker: Back in the win column

The Revs and Toronto FC kicked off on Saturday night on the artificial surface that they first played on back in April – a match in which the Revs thoroughly spanked the so-called Reds 4-0. Nevertheless, for the third match in a row, the Revs played a much lesser club in the standings, but this time came away with the just reward of three points by taking the 3-0 result.

At 7:35pm ET, the Revs kicked off to begin the match, and early on set the offensive tempo by controlling the Toronto end of the pitch. The Canadians only exacerbated their situation with some questionable passing and a rather unorganized defending policy.

At 7:49pm ET, in the 13th minute, Avery John put himself at the top of the box and mailed a pass directly into the mixer. The ball bounced off of defender Kevin Goldthwaite’s leg and right to a sneaky Andy Dorman, who lassoed the gift deflection and sailed it past the keeper for the opening goal of the match. 1-0, Revs.

While the Revs controlled the ball for a large part of the first half, Toronto eventually clawed its way into the opposite end. On a Toronto free kick just above the left corner of the box at the 26 minute mark, the Revs backline blocked the initial kick, and then proceeded to wall up two more consecutive shots, and the threat dissipated soon thereafter.

As the Revs continued to dominate possession, it was only a matter of the time before the home side acquired goal number two. At 8:10pm ET, Jeff Larentowicz catapulted a pass over two defenders en route to an airborne Pat Noonan, who headed the ball past a diving Djekanovic and into the net for the second goal of the match at the 33rd minute mark. 2-0 Revs.

In the 37th, Toronto crashed again. Jeff Cunningham rocketed a hard shot toward Matt Reis that was deflected away, but created a dangerous rebound that trickled back toward Toronto’s Danny Dichio, who attempted to steer it back on net before Jay Heaps guarded the line and kicked away the menacing ball.

With time winding down in the half, Andy Dorman raced down the heart of the field, and sent in a left-footed shot from the top of the box that skipped feet away from the side post, narrowly missing a potential third goal for the lads from New England in the 45th minute.

As Toronto kicked off for the second act, the Revs immediately continued their dominance of both the ball and the Toronto end of the pitch and reclaimed the rhythm they orchestrated in the first half. The Revs peppered Djekanovic with a Shalrie Joseph free kick in the 49th, then a Dorman surface-to-air missile in the 54th that required an acrobatic save by the Yugoslavian keeper.

Toronto countered with an obligatory rush in the 60th minute, but was effectively snuffed out before it ever reached Reis' zip code, as the ball unsurprisingly journeyed back toward the Toronto end of the pitch.

New England continued their mastery of the adidas MLS teamgeist match ball, and it became increasingly apparent to be that another goal was imminent. Said imminent goal materialized at 9:09pm ET, during the 81st minute, when Dorman, who had barely missed the Revs’ third goal of the match in the 45th, took a beautiful ball from Cristman and delivered the ball wide of Djekanovic and into the back of the net. 3-0 Revs.

The remainder of the match became a passing clinic, as the navy and red played a fine game of keep away from the Canadians for the final few minutes, en route to the home club’s first victory in over a month.

Stat of the Match, Part 1: With their win vs. Toronto, the Revs have now won all three home matches on FieldTurf.

Stat of the Match, Part 2: Andy Dorman has scored three of his five goals this season vs. Toronto.

Stat of the Match, Part 3: Pat Noonan has scored three goals in his last two matches.

Stat of the Match, Part 4: The Revs have allowed 0, 4, 0, 3 & 0 goals respectively in each of their last five matches.

Stat of the Match, Part 5: Toronto FC manager Mo Johnston is 0-2-1 all time vs. New England.

Random observation of the match: Prior to the beginning of the second half, the PA announcer touted Gillette’s new “Phantom” razor, which the company touts as being so smooth, you’ll barely feel the blade.

Ok, two things: a phantom is invisible – by that principle, because the razor itself is quite visible, isn’t that deceptive advertising? Secondly, the Revs are currently unadorned with any sponsorship labels on their kits this year. Hello, anyone home at Gillette? Why doesn’t Gillette sponsor the Revs? It would be a perfect marriage between the local soccer team and the local razor conglomerate.

The AND1 “OH BAY-BEE!” Play of the Match: In another display worthy of a mixtape DVD, Wells Thompson found himself with his back to the proverbial wall as Toronto made a rare excursion into Revolution territory. As Toronto FC midfielder Andy Welsh paced down the left flank, Wellsie kept up with him step-for-step. Then, when Welsh tried to get cute with spin move, Thompson simply poked the ball between the red-shirted poseur. Once again, the sweet move drew the approval of young kids covering their mouths in stunned amazement, and then waving their oversized tees in delight.

As an aside: Should the Revs or MLS ever put out a mixtape/DVD, Wells Thompson should be given a “streetball” name, in the same vein as “The Professor”, “Hot Sauce” and “The Pharmacist”. SMS will get to work on Wellsie’s street name in the coming weeks.

Sour sequence of the match: In the final minutes of the first act, Jeff Larentowicz hit the turf after it appeared that he has gotten poked in the eye by an unidentified Toronto FC defender. The harm required Larentowicz to visit the sideline for medical attention. Less than tow minutes thereafter, Toronto cornered as James Riley was grounded with an injury as well. Riley traded spots with Larentowicz on the sidelines. Luckily, both appeared to be ok, although Larentowicz was substituted for at the commencement of the second half.

Who did the Krafts root for? Patriots 9, Revolution 3. No, your eyes do not betray you. The Revolution and the Patriots actually played to a 9-3 score Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd. And guess what? They played two more times this past weekend…in York, PA, as the York Revolution and Somerset Patriots square off in Atlantic League baseball action.

The soccer gods chortled: After beginning the season 4-6-2, Dave Sarachan was fired as manager of the Chicago Fire this week. Revs fans remember well that it was Sarachan who successfully badgered the league office last fall to have Shalrie Joseph suspended for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals last year after the Grenadian "elbowed" Fire midfielder Ivan Guerrero during Game 1. Like Revs fans, the soccer gods also have a crystal clear memory of this incident, and doled out punishment accordingly.

The soccer gods did not chortle: SMS counted at least three instances in which Shalrie Joseph was hard tackled – and all three went unseen by referee Alex Prus.

Why not the Tea Men? As you may know, SMS has been known to allow himself to be distracted by other sports like baseball and hockey when there’s no soccer on the telly. Such was the case on Friday night, when the Padres and Red Sox squared off in San Diego both wearing vintage, 1980-style throwback jerseys.

This scene got SMS thinking…why not have the Revs don throwbacks as well? Picture this: the normally navy and red Revs in the garish, mustard yellow and red kits of their predecessors: the New England Tea Men! Revs marketing department, SMS’s agent is standing by to take your calls regarding more can't-miss marketing campaigns.

Rhode Island Stingrays Update: SMS previously stated that the Rays had a formidable challenge when the Cape Cod Crusaders came to town for Saturday night’s PDL match up. The Crusaders are among the elite PDL teams in the Northeast, and to drive home the point, they went 14-0-2 last season. So true to form, the Rays battled, but could not muster the firepower to counter a five-goal output by the 2006 champs, as they fell 5-2. Jeffrey Gonsalves continued his goal-scoring streak by netting both of the home club’s pair of goals, while Rays keeper Joshua Ford had his hands full, to say the least, as he had to come up with ten saves just to keep the score somewhat respectable.

US Women’s National Team Update: Instead of the usual individual player feature, SMS decided to devote this section to the entire team, after their 2-0 win against Brazil Saturday afternoon. Kristine Lilly scored in the 1st minute directly from a free kick at the corner of the box, and Abby Wambach scored in the 17th, as the US women continued their incredible streak of dominance (35-0-7) since manager Greg Ryan took over in 2005.

By the way, how cool are those new WNT gold jerseys? SMS loved them, and in fact, may have to pick one up prior to their World Cup in September. What’s that you say? It’s a chick jersey? As a comfortably secure 26-year-old male, SMS has no problem donning the jersey of one of the best teams in the world.

Next stop on the tour is Hartford, CT on July 14, and yours truly will be there to support the best women’s team in the world against Norway.

“I’m going, going/back back/to Cali, Cali…” Ok, so SMS is not going to California anytime soon, but the Revs are next week as they face Chivas USA for the first time this season. The match will thankfully be on TV38, which improves the chances that SMS will be able to watch the game live after catching the local Stingrays at Pierce Field at 7:30pm. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Finally, although the victory warrants more than what SMS can give right now, a big congratulations to the US Men’s National Team on their amazing 2-1 victory over Mexico in capturing the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup! How exquisite was Benny Feilhaber’s heat-seeker in the 73rd minute? Unquestionably - the greatest goal in recent US MNT history. Great job guys!

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