Revs draw Swedish Champs

Kelyn Rowe opened the scoring in the 5th minute of the Revolution's preseason opening 1-1 draw with Swedish Malmo FF . (Photo: Kari Heistad)

Kelyn Rowe opened the scoring in the 5th minute of the Revolution’s preseason opening 1-1 draw with Swedish Malmo FF . (Photo: Kari Heistad)

The New England Revolution opened their 2014 preseason with a 1-1 draw against defending Swedish Allsvenskan champions Malmo FF at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. on Friday night. Kelyn Rowe opened the scoring for the Revolution in the fifth minute, capitalizing on a defensive error by Malmo FF, but Malmo would strike back with a 36th minute equalizer through Emil Forsberg.

Both sides, who were each playing their first match of their 2014 preseason campaigns, opened the match with strong line-ups. The Revolution started with Bobby Shuttleworth in goal, while Kevin Alston, O’Brian Woodbine, A.J. Soares and Andrew Farrell – playing at center back for the first time for the Revolution – patrolled the back line. Alston was handed the captain’s armband.

Scott Caldwell started at defensive midfield, while midfielder Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Rowe and ex-Revolution star/current trialist Marko Perovic, as well as striker Dimitry Imbongo completed the line-up. Noticeably absent from the match was defender and regular captain Jose Goncalves, who recently aired his discontent with his contract.

Malmo, who are set to enter the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round this summer, started a line-up featured six players who have appeared for Sweden’s National Team in the past year, as well as a regular on Finland’s National Team.

The Revolution started the brighter team and Rowe gave them the lead in the fifth minute when he pounced on a poorly played back pass by defender Pontus Jansson – a Sweden International – and slotted a shot around Malmo ‘keeper Robin Olsen.

Perovic then tested the Olsen with a long range shot in the 19th minute, but the Danish ‘keeper managed to block the shot and then gather in the rebound.

Malmo began to get more control of the game in the final ten minutes of the half and the Revolution nearly returned the favor for Malmo’s earlier defensive blunder in the 35th minute. Scott Caldwell was caught in possession just outside the box and turned the ball over, where Magnus Eriksson picked it off ran in on goal. Shuttleworth managed to keep Erikson off the board with an impressive diving save.

Malmo would equalize a minute later through Emil Forsberg after a breakdown in the Revolution defense. Forsberg’s initial shot after he cut into the left side of the box was denied by the far post, but he was there to clean it up and tap it into the empty net.

Shuttleworth than came up huge shortly before halftime with a big save when Eriksson took a free kick from just outside the box and targeted in for inside the post. Shuttleworth made a nice diving save to keep the match knotted at 1-1 going into the break.

New England made wholesale changes at the half with nine new players coming, while Malmo made just two substitutions, keeping a strong line-up for the second half.

New England threatened first about seven minutes in, but Jerry Bengtson’s shot after a long run was blocked wide for a corner.

Malmo seemed to take control of the game as the half wore on and started to get some good chances in the final 20 minutes. Eriksson and Malmo substitute Pawe? Cibicki threatened in the 77th minute, breaking through the Revolution defense, but Cibicki couldn’t find the target under pressure.

New England began to get back on the front foot in the last five minutes and had a chance in the 86th minute through substitute Patrick Mullins. The rookie got the ball from Bengtson and curled a left foot shot towards the far post, but Olsen was there to make the save.

Four minutes later the Revolution were on the attack again through Pierre Omanga. The unsigned third round draft pick out of Southern New Hampshire University ran in on goal from the left side of the box, but couldn’t beat Olsen from a tight angle.

The final whistle would blow shortly after and the Revolution opened their preseason with a solid display to earn a 1-1 draw against Malmo. The Revolution’s next scheduled preseason match is Wednesday, Feb. 19, against Real Salt Lake at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. at 8 p.m. ET. That match kicks off the club’s Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament campaign. This is the third straight year the Revolution have participated in the tournament.

Line-ups:
New England Revolution (R-to-L): Bobby Shuttleworth; O’Brian Woodbine; Andrew Farrell (Alec Sundly* 45’), A.J. Soares (Darrius Barnes 45’), Kevin Alston (C) (Donnie Smith 45’); Scott Caldwell (Paolo Delpiccolo 45’); Marko Perovic* (Evan Melo* 45’, Pierre Omanga* 79’), Lee Nguyen (Juan Perotti* 45’), Kelyn Rowe (Andy Dorman 45’), Diego Fagundez (Patrick Mullins 45’); Dimtry Imbongo (Jerry Bengtson 45’)
*Trialist

Malmö FF:  Robin Olsen; Mahmut Özen (Matias Concha 45’), Pontus Jansson, Erik Johansson, Ricardinho (Pa Konate 79’); Simon Kroon (Erdal Rakip 45’), Markus Halsti (Filip Helander 64’), Simon Thern (Petar Petrovic 64’), Emil Forsberg; Magnus Eriksson, Guillermo Molins  (Pawel Cibicki 65’)

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue