Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday Morning Striker: Revs dismantle RSL, 2-1

The Revs and Real Salt Lake kicked off Saturday night in Utah on the horribly-surfaced, yet refreshingly football line-free Rice-Eccles Stadium, which is actually the real home of the University of Utah football team. For those of you who follow the “other football”, the “Utes” featured a much-ballyhooed quarterback in 2004 by the name of Alex Smith – the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, made by a then-horrendous San Francisco 49ers team.

Anyway, for those of you eager to acquire the heavy ball and chain, you can hold your wedding at the facility for $2,500 an evening at the Scholarship Reception Room at the stadium. The room seats up to 375 humans, but you’re on your own when it comes to decorations and catering. For those of you who are soccer fans, the price does not include the removal of those horrendous football lines that often poison the view during a match.

Seeking alternate monikers for all 13 MLS clubs, reader Jeff St. Clair suggested RSL be called “the Saltines.” Any objections? SMS approves!

The Revs began early stringing a nice sequence of passes against the one-win club, and the game remained goalless through twenty minutes. The Saltines managed to make it dull and boring against the top-attacking (1.81 goals per game) club in MLS, and early on, SMS was dreading a reprise of the frustrating June 2 proceedings, which ended 0-0. Real reverted to their prior game plan – their only hope against a potent offense like the Revs -purely playing a scrappy, defensive-minded affair.

In the 23rd minute, Pat Noonan drove a shot low toward the near post that was saved by keeper Nick Rimando, giving the Revs a nice opportunity toward the early goal. Soon after, Dorman sent in another shot off the corner, and set off a series of corner kicks that failed to bear fruit for the road side, as the scoreboard remained silent.

Then in the 33rd minute, Rimando robbed Andy Dorman on a nice shot that threatened to give the Revs the first goal. Unfortunately, the ball was intercepted by the RSL keeper, and the match remained tied.

Ralston seemed to keep delivering good balls to his teammates, but each narrowly missed their intended targets. With the Revs clearly dominant in Act One, it appeared it was only a matter of time before the soccer gods would eventually smile upon Nicol’s boys.

Lightning struck for the Revs in the 39th minute, when Jeff Larentowicz sent a long ball to Taylor Twellman, before he headed it in beautifully toward an unmarked Noonan on the right. The not-so-clean shaven striker forward took a couple of crafty steps inside the box and absolutely schooled Rimando on a left-footed laser, giving the lads the 1-0 lead amid the thin air of Salt Lake.

As the half wore down with New England on top, the road side was poised to keep the Saltines below water. Though the home club attempted to break even before the frame closed, the Revs did well to suffocate any threat, and actually attacked late when Twellman went down after attempting to head in a Ralston cross before the half concluded.

The Revs immediately went for the throat as the second half commenced when Shalrie Joseph struck a hard shot before the box that rocketed above goal in the 46th minute, which put the home club on notice that the Revs were not content to sit back and mimic the long-ball approach so characteristic of their opponents.

With the Saltines clearly overmatched and faced to play the ugly route one ball, the Revs continued to attack and pressure the home side.

In the 53rd minute, the Revs threatened on an amazing sequence in which Noonan turned David Copperfield and escaped two defenders before sending a nice pass to his line mate Twellman, before the opportunity fizzled.

After being inserted as a substitute mere minutes previous, Khano Smith came on and laced a hard shot on goal in the 65th minute that kept Rimando on his toes.

Things turned especially ugly in the 67th minute, when Andy Williams slid in and de-cleated Dorman, sending the Welshman down hard to the pitch. Referee Michael Kennedy awarded Williams the dubious red card, which gave the already overmatched club further troubles.

The Pepto Bismol became a requirement in the 70th minute, when Jay Heaps took down Kyle Beckerman in the box, and eagle-eyed Kennedy caught the infraction. Penalty duly awarded to the Saltines, Carey Tally buried the ball past Matt Reis, giving the undermanned club the equalizer in the 72nd minute.

Both clubs played pinball with possession being traded like freefalling stocks between savvy insiders, neither club mounted an organized threat on goal as time ticked away late in the second half.

A chance to reclaim the lead lost nearly ten minutes prior, when Kennedy awarded a free kick to the Revs dangerously close to the Saltine box. Larentowicz took the direct free kick in the 82nd minute and belted out his rendition of “excuse me while I kiss the twine”, as he snipered a low heat seeker that split the wall and hurried into the Saltine net for the go-ahead goal.

With stoppage time extending the proceedings by four minutes, Talley struck a near-goal on a free kick that sailed over the Revolution wall before flying high above Reis. Threat effectively dismantled, the road troops sweated it out for the much-deserved road victory, 2-1.

Stat of the Match, Part 1: The Saltines have only scored nine goals in eight home matches this season.

Stat of the Match, Part 2: Noonan and Twellman have collaborated on three of the past five Revolution goals.

Stat of the Match, Part 3: Prior to Saturday’s match, the Revs last win over Real was back on September 3, 2005.

Stat of the Match, Part 4: After striking four shots on goal in the first half, the Revs did not record a shot on goal in the second half until the Kaiser’s tally in the 82nd.

What can Brown do for you?
With a full moon rising above the concrete enclave, Real manager Jason Kreis sent in former Revolution forward Kyle Brown for Chris Brown in the 61st minute.

Misleading advertising ploy catches eye of SMS: After the Revs-Creamsicles match, SMS picked up an MLS-sponsored cardboard promotion in an empty cup holder. The flyer inquired: “Your league, your players. What would you do with $10,000,000?” Upon closer review, the card was actually requesting fans to fill out an on-line survey about MLS. SMS took this survey, and curiously, none of the questions was “what would you do with $10 million dollars?”

First things first though: the genius who designed these ad cards did a great job with the format, since at first glance, it looks like the bearer of the card could win ten million dollars. Then again, we all know that MLS does not have $10 million to just give away to a fan, so those of us not among the pipe dreaming contingent know better. In fact, the actual prize mentioned in the card is $500 shopping spree. Wow, from $10 million to $500…only in MLS!

Anywho, what would SMS do with $10 million towards the league and its players?

First of all, I’d use the first five million to give all developmental players raises. Case in point: Super rookie Adam Cristman will earn $17,700 in 2007, while fellow rookie Chris Loftus will take in a whopping $12,900 this year. Seriously, how do these guys even afford to pay for the late-night pizza?

Secondly, I would buy the necessary land to build a world-class soccer specific stadium in New England. Let’s call the price tag on that a square million. The land can’t sit there undeveloped forever…can it?

Four million left…I would pump three million into mega multimedia advertising, which would include ads featuring the super-hot Jessica Alba or Megan Fox. Then, I would get T.I. to write the remix to the MLS anthem for use during its MLS Prime Time commercials and other spots.
The remaining million would be channeled toward the expense of extra match balls. Why? The remainder of the season, any match ball that flies into the crowd is kept by the lucky fan to hauls it in. Just like baseball. Believe you me, this would be a sure-fire hit with the fans, and create awesome tales for the kiddies to tell at recess.

Let’s talk kits: During a recent discussion on the Chris Creamer Sports Logos board, the issue of MLS kits came up, and it was noted that the Revs have only gone with two uniform combos this season: white/white and navy/navy. This got SMS thinking (and typing a response soon after) – why don’t the Revs go with a navy/white and white/navy combo? I’m not asking for any overhauls – the New England kits are one of the classiest in the league (and throughout this season, remain sponsor-free!). But, a switch once in awhile would be cool.

Speaking of unis, with the other four major sports capitalizing on the cash-cow third jersey trend, why doesn’t MLS do the same? The Gals had a third uniform which featured a blue sash rather than the traditional green one, but after that, there are no third unis to speak of in MLS. Hey…do you hear that sound?

*The gears are turning inside the brain of one SMS*

How about a red Revs uniform? Now, history purists would contend that a red Revolution jersey is contradictory – after all, it was the British who wore red! (Note: this very oversight lasted over thirty years with the Patriots before they switched from red to blue as their primary color in 1993) However, speaking strictly on fashion, a red top/blue shorts would be a great way to push those ever-popular jersey sales over at the Pro Shop.

*Gears turning again*

Then about an old wink o’ toward past with a New England Tea Men inspired throwback kit? Although the old NASL club predates his birth, SMS is highly in favor of such a uni, and thinks the red and yellow kits would be a huge hit with home crowd. Picture this: Twellman, Noonan, and Joseph in the extremely 70s –esque Tea Men kits roaming down the pitch right before your eyes. Note to Revs marketing department: please contact my agent for more proposals and ideas.

Pre-match fare: SMS pre-gamed the Revs-RSL match with the Boa Vista-FC Porto Portuguese Liga match in the late afternoon on Radio Television Portugal (RTP). For those of you who don’t know, SMS is half Portuguese, but, embarrassingly cannot speak, nor fully understand the language. (Side note: the match was advertised Friday night with a start time of “4.30 Amanha.”) Hey, SMS knew what that meant!

Anyway, FC Porto, the king of the Portuguese Liga table in 2006-07, won the match 3-0 over the black and white checkered Boa Vista.

Best week ever: Of all the major sports league commissioners, it’s fair to say that Don Garber had the best week ever among his peers this week. While the commish welcomed Beckham’s arrival during the Gals-Chelsea match last Saturday, other sports commissioners were embroiled in national controversies. So long as Landon Donovan stays away from the dog fighting, the refs stay away from Vegas bookies and the Mafia, and Jaime Moreno shuns the HGH and steroids, Garber will easily have the best summer among his fellow league czars in the sports commissioners guild.

Random soccer-related thought: On the espn2 Bottom Line, the Revs-RSL match stated “NEW ENGLND – SALT LAKE 9:30PM”. It should be noted that there was plenty of room for the “A” in New England.

Slyde had no comment on this item: Taking a cue from Jerry Remy, SMS has a plush Slyde sitting in a quite fashionable oak chair much like the one Wally the Green Monster reclines in during Red Sox broadcasts. Like Wally, Slyde is not typically animated during Revs TV matches, although there was one occurrence during the road match vs. Chivas USA where Slyde slumped over after Jesse Marsch’s goal at the 60th minute. Whether this was in disgust or weariness (the game started at 10:30pm ET) is still unknown, and Slyde is not willing to offer comment on the incident.

Shameless plug, part 1: If you haven’t already visited his critically-acclaimed blog (, SMS urges you to check it out. Also, if you happen to be a collegiate soccer player who also dabbles in writing, then SMS wants you to contribute your valuable first-hand soccer experiences! Beginning in late-August, the blog will look to feature the first-person point of view of a local collegiate player. If interested, send an e-mail to

US Women’s National Team feature: She’s blonde, loves kids, chocolate and cheese (hopefully not together!), and after reading her bio, the floating hearts quickly surrounded SMS! Leslie Osborne may have missed the 2004 Olympics, but was a clear-cut choice for Greg Ryan’s World Cup roster this year. This year, she’s played in 10 of the 11 WNT matches, and figures to be an important cog in Ryan’s potent midfielding corps during September’s Women’s World Cup. Interestingly, she also has an interest in coaching. Leslie, SMS will gladly reserve an assistant coaching spot for you when he commences his indoor soccer season coaching duties with NE 1776 in the Fall – of course, after you come back from China with the World Cup!

Shameless plug, part 2: For those of you who simply cannot get enough of SMS, you are in luck this weekend!

I will be Sean Donahue’s in-studio guest for tonight’s Revolution Recap radio show on WNRI (Woonsocket) AM 1380 at 7pm. If you’re not able to listen live, check out Sean’s website – – for the archive.

Join us after a shortened break when the Revs return to the synthetic confines of Gillette Stadium on Thursday night to face the Wizards. With a mere six points separating first and fifth place in the standings, these Eastern Conference matches are becoming more and more critical down the stretch.

Last time, the Revs would have beaten the Wiz 3-1, were it not for a stellar hat trick performance by Eddie Johnson, which gave the Kansas Citians the 4-3 victory. In the same vein as Greg Lalas’ “Keys to the Game”, SMS offers the following keys to the home club prior to the match: mark EJ a little better this time!

No comments: