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NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

April 6, 2011
CARD CRAZY
Revolution salvage 1-1 draw with shorthanded Whitecaps


Ilija Stolica’s stoppage-time header saved the day for the Revs.
Ilija Stolica’s stoppage-time header saved the day for the Revs.
Photo courtesy MLS
VANCOUVER, BC--It was one of those maddening games that left everyone involved scratching their heads, and nobody happy with the 1-1 result.

Despite having a two-man advantage for much of the second half, the New England Revolution (1-0-3) needed a stoppage-time header by Ilija Stolica to salvage a 1-1 draw with the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps (1-1-2) Wednesday night at packed Empire Stadium.

Stolica scored with a close-range header in the third of four added minutes, tacked on after a wild second half that saw Vancouver Designated Player Eric Hassli take the field, score a goal and be sent off with two yellow cards within a ten-minute span. Hassli’s was the second Vancouver ejection, after Gershon Koffie’s straight red card at the end of the first half. New England rookie defender A.J. Soares followed the two Vancouver players off the field in the 74th minute, leaving the match 10-on-9 for the final 26 minutes.

The slim first-half highlight reel was dominated by the Whitecaps until the closing minutes, when New England’s Stephen McCarthy got off a sharp downward header off Zak Boggs’ corner kick that midfielder Nazir Khalfan saved off the line. The ball was cleared out of the penalty area, leading to a nasty collision between Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan and Vancouver forward Camilo that left both players rolling on the ground.

Two minutes later, Phelan was down again after taking an elbow to the face from Gershon Koffie, who was ejected. Sainey Nyassi tried to take advantage for the Revs before the whistle, but his long shot from the left side went straight to netminder Jay Nolly.

For much of the half, the action moved steadily from end to end, but without much in the way of danger from either side. The first solid scoring chance came from Whitecaps forward Atiba Harris, who beat A.J. Soares into the left side of the box and challenged New England ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth – making the start for Matt Reis, who did not travel because of an adductor strain – with a low shot to the near post. The Whitecaps continued to challenge off the ensuing corner kick, and the Revolution didn’t regain possession until Shalrie Joseph was fouled as Harris whiffed on a six-yard volley.

At the half hour mark, Camilo gave Shuttleworth another anxious moment, lofting the ball from near the left endline for Wes Knight, who could not make contact. Six minutes later, the Brazilian spun around defender Didier Domi near midfield and dribbled in before passing off to Knight, whose cross into the box from the right side was off target.

While the man disadvantage might have prompted Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordarson might have been prompted to add defensive power to his lineup, instead he opted to insert Hassli for Knight at the intermission. The Frenchman, who sat out last weekend’s epic 3-3 tie with Sporting Kansas City after picking up two yellow cards against the Philadelphia Union on March 26, collected yet another caution in the 49th minute after bloodying defender Kevin Alston’s nose with an elbow, gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead with a penalty kick after Boggs was judged to have pushed down Camilo while both were chasing down a pass into the box, and was ejected before play restarted after ripping off his jersey, even though he was wearing an identical shirt underneath.

The same never-say-die mentality that fueled Vancouver’s three-goal rally against SKC last weekend took hold after the Whitecaps were reduced to nine men for the final 34 minutes of the game. Goalkeeper Jay Nolly, who is second on the Whitecaps’ depth chart behind seasoned veteran Joe Cannon, took firm control of the penalty area, repeatedly plucking Revolution passes and corner kicks out of the six-yard box. In the 68th minute, he snatched Boggs’ service from the right side off Stolica’s head. Four minutes later, Domi’s cross from the left wing ended up in Nolly’s hands, leaving Kenny Mansally to somersault over defender Blake Wagner at the far post.

But the Vancouver netminder didn’t really get busy until after Chris Tierney entered the match for Nyassi in the 74th minute. Nyassi had been generally ineffective, thanks to determined coverage from right back Jonathan Leathers, and Tierney provided an immediate spark to the Revolution attack, sending searching balls into the goal area, then forcing Nolly to parry a dipping free kick from under the bar in the 82nd minute.

Tierney’s efforts were especially timely, given that the Revolution were reduced to ten men in the 74th minute seconds after his entry into the game, when Soares took Harris’s legs out from under him on a breakaway.

Finally, with five minutes left on the clock, Tierney appeared to have orchestrated the equalizing goal, with a ball from the left side for Stolica, who was crashing the far post. The Serb headed the ball sharply into the lower corner of the net, but was ruled offside.

Seconds later, an error by Domi left Harris alone with the ball at the top of the New England penalty area, but the weary striker fired the ball over the bar. That miss came back to haunt the Canadians in the third minute of stoppage time, when Stolica got a second crack at goal, and made the most of it. The play started with Pat Phelan high on the right side. Phelan found Zack Schilawski at the left side of the box. Schilawski popped a header to Stolica, who settled the ball with his knee and blasted a shot from right in front of the goal to salvage the 1-1 draw.





   
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