FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Rookie midfielder Stephen McCarthy scored his first professional goal to give the New England Revolution (1-0-2, 5 points) an early lead, but it wasn’t enough as the home side would give up an equalizer late in the second half to settle for a 1-1 draw with the expansion Portland Timbers (0-2-1, 1 point). At home against a side that had lost their first two matches by an average of two goals, the Revs expected better.
“I think it’s really frustrating that we didn’t pick up three points tonight,” said Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph. “We’ve still got a lot of growing to do; we’re a young team. We’ve still got a lot to work on. We’ll take that point tonight, but we’ll be better next game”
The Revs took the lead after a solo effort by Sainey Nyassi earned the home side a corner kick. Portland failed to clear the ensuing set piece from Zak Boggs and the ball eventually fell to McCarthy at the top of the box. The rookie midfielder powered a low shot to the far corner that Timbers ‘keeper Jake Gleeson got a hand to, but couldn’t keep out of the net as the University of North Carolina product tallied his first career goal.
“I just saw a little opening on the right side and just hit it,” said McCarthy. “I was hoping it would go in and I got lucky.”
Portland equalized in the 38th minute after Kenny Cooper made a run through the Revolution midfield to the top of the box. Copper sent a square pass to Jeremy Hall, who quickly sent the ball back to Jack Jewsbury. The former Kansas City Wizard midfielder blasted a low shot past Reis inside the far post to knot the score at 1-1.
“We talked about it before the opening whistle that we cannot allow [Cooper] to turn, we cannot allow him to run with the ball,” said Joseph. “I think we just mentally went to sleep where we allowed him space and we allowed him time on the ball. He played a great ball. We had people in position. I think [Hall] turned around and Kevin [Alston] went to kick it, but he just didn’t connect on it and Jewsbury just had a great finish with his left foot.”
New England made only one change from the lineup that beat D.C. United 2-1 last weekend with Ryan Cochrane filling in for the injured Franco Coria. Cochrane, making his first start for the Revolution, went the full 90 minutes.
The Timbers had an early opportunity in the second minute after earning a free kick about 40 yards from goal. Eric Brunner curled a ball into the box where Steve Purdy directed a header on frame. Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis was up to the challenge and did well to hold on to the ball.
Three minutes later it was the Revs with a golden opportunity when Shalrie Joseph played a pass over the top of the defense to Zak Boggs. Boggs ran in alone on goal, but Jack Jewsbury made a nice recovery to slide the ball away at the last minute.
Those opening two chances would give a taste of what was to come as the match turned into a back-and-forth affair.
“We’re just disappointed all around,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “There were very few good things about tonight. I guess if you’re not on your game and you pick up points you should be happy, but obviously we’re at home and we want three points, we don’t want a point.”
Nyassi created a good chance for himself in the 21st minute, dribbling down the left flank before cutting inside at the top of the box. Nyassi blasted a shot towards the far corner, only to see it denied by the crossbar. That corner would lead to McCarthy’s opening goal.
Reis came up big for the Revs in the 32nd minute, when Kenny Cooper unleashed a powerful low shot on frame from the top of the box. With an onrushing Timbers’ forward on the chase, Reis managed to make the save and keep hold of the ball, avoiding a potentially dangerous rebound.
Six minutes later some sloppy defending allowed Portland back into the game with Jewsbury’s equalizer.
Joseph had an opportunity for the Revs in the 51st minute after Zak Boggs controlled a long pass from the left flank and settled the ball before sending it to Joseph at the top of the box. Joseph put an effort on frame, but it was too close to Gleeson, who easily made the save.
The Timbers nearly took the lead in the 70th minute on a free kick by Kalif Alhassan. The Ghanaian midfielder curled a free kick over the wall that beat Reis and was denied only by the post.
The Revs had their best chance of the half in the 79th minute, after Joseph found Nyassi on the right flank. Nyassi chested the ball down to substitute Kenny Mansally, who quickly played it back to the fellow Gambian international. Nyassi, behind the defense, attempted a shot, but mishit it, allowing the Timbers defense to clear the ball before a pair of onrushing Revs attackers could get to it.
“We had a couple of chances where we might have won the game, but in all honesty we were disappointing tonight and we were pretty flat most of the time,” said Nicol. “We just never ever got going.”
Looking for a late winner the Revs pushed numbers forward, but failed to break down the Timbers’ defense in the dying minutes of the match.
“It was an ugly game from the start,” said Cochrane. “A lot of long balls and I don’t think either team had great possession. These are the kind of games that are going to happen in throughout the season. You’ve got to get something out of it, so I was proud of the guys for getting at least a point out of it. You want to get three, but we’ve got two more games coming up pretty quick here, so it’s good. It gives us a chance to move on fairly fast.”
The Revs hit the road on Wednesday traveling to face the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps at 10 p.m., before returning to Foxborough to face league leaders Real Salt Lake on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.