New England Soccer Today

Nil – Nil

Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy made a couple of crucial tackles to preserve the shutout for the Revolution on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Despite each side creating some quality chances, a scoreless draw was on tap at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night as the New England Revolution faced off against the Columbus Crew in front 12,218.

“It was a draw at home, 0-0,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “It was just one of those games. It’s another step for us. It’s another shutout for us. We defended well at times. It got loose a little bit in the game, but overall we had some good chances and I thought their goalkeeper – literally – kept them in this game all night long.”

With Columbus coming off a 21 day break between MLS games and New England coming off a 14 day break of their own, rust could’ve been a factor for both teams – particularly with the Revs previous struggles this season after extended periods without a match. Instead, the Revs were the early aggressors.

Within the first minute the Revs nearly scored after a nice build-up down the left flank. Lee Nguyen found Saer Sene in the box, who chested it into the path of an onrushing Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber attempted a shot to the far post that rolled just wide.

“We did really well [to get off to a quick start],” said Feilhaber. “I don’t think they touched the ball before I had that chance… If I put that in the back of the net it’s a different game completely. I wish I could’ve had it back, but we had some other chances in the first half to take the 1-0 lead.”

The Crew came similarly close in the 12th minute, when Edgar Renteria broke down the right flank and found Eddie Gaven at the top of the six-yard box. The 25-year-old forward mishit the ball, sending it just wide of the post.

Colombian Jose Moreno had the best chance of the early going for the Revs in the 16th minute after \ Feilhaber played him behind the defense with a perfectly place pass. Moreno ran in alone on goal, but his touch let him down, forcing him into a more difficult shot. His effort from a tight angle was saved by Andy Gruenebaum.

Saer Sene then blasted a surprise shot from 30 yards just before the half hour mark, only to be denied by the crossbar.

Feilhaber, who looked particularly sharp in the first half, pulled the strings of the attack again in the 38th minute. This time the creative midfielder faked a shot before sending a pass to Fernando Cardenas on the right side of the box.  The 24-year-old Colombian blasted a shot on frame that was blocked by Gruenebaum. The rebound fell back to Cardenas, but his quick shot under pressure was right at Gruenebaum.

Just after the halftime break Milovan Mirosevic blew a fantastic chance for the Crew. Gaven set up Mirosevic perfectly at the penalty spot, but despite tons of space, the Chilean midfielder whiffed on his attempted shot.

But despite the quick start to the second period, the final 45 minutes was a much tighter affair than the opening half. The Revs, in particular, had trouble breaking down the Crew’s defensive posture.

“Once you start missing chances it starts getting tighter and tighter and that’s what eventually happened,” said Feilhaber. “We weren’t able to capitalize, but holding them for 90+ minutes with zero on the defensive sheet, that’s pretty good.”

Emilio Renteria blew perhaps the easiest chance of the game in the 65th minute. The Venezuelan striker was set up perfectly just a few yards from goal on a pass by Justin Meram, but somehow missed the net.

The Revs center back pairing of A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy, playing in front of veteran ‘keeper Matt Reis, combined well all night to help shut down the Crew and came up big in the final minutes. McCarthy, in particular, sacrificed his body to make two big blocks at the game approached its conclusion. It was the second consecutive shutout for the Revs.

“Chris [Tierney] likes to go, Kevin [Alston] likes to go, and when you’re starting as a defender for the first time you’re a little scared to let them go,” said McCarthy, who switched from playing center midfield to center back this season. “But yeah I think I’m getting used to it. We had to make plays and we made them.”

“We kind of know each other’s tendencies now,” said Soares of his partnership with McCarthy. “[McCarthy’s] improving all the time. I’m Improving all the time. I think we’re getting better and better and more importantly just knowing what we’re going to do, communicating well, and [McCarthy]was huge today. He made some serious stops, particularly the one slide tackle that he got injured on. He shows that he’s becoming a top level center back and I love playing with him.”

Nguyen did have one last gasp chance for the Revs, blasting a shot from just outside the box in the final minute of regulation. Gruenebaum just managed to tip the shot wide and the Crew was able to clear the ensuing corner.


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