Fit to be tied

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With struggling Toronto FC in town, the similarly disappointing New England Revolution looked to have a perfect opportunity to end their four game winless streak. Unfortunately for the Revs finding the back of the net again proved an unattainable feat and the home side settled for a 0-0 draw despite having 19 shots in the match.

Matt Reis picked up his third shutout of the season, but the Revs couldn't find a goal on the other end to pick up a needed three points. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/aduama.com)

New England had countless opportunities to go in front, but weak and poorly placed shots and poor passing in the final third prevented the Revs from finding that elusive goal they needed to take an important three points. The draw kept the Revs (3-7-5, 14 points) winless in their last five games and Toronto (2-5-9, 15 points) winless in their last seven. The Revs and Toronto sit in 8th and 7th, respectively, in the Eastern Conference

“We had what, 19 shots, 11 corners?” said head coach Steve Nicol. “We’ve had plenty of the ball in the final third and we haven’t produced that bit of quality that’s needed. And that pretty much says it all.”

Looking to increase their offensive output, the Revs switched formations for the game, dropping their usual 4-5-1 formation in favor of a 4-4-2. Kenny Mansally got the start up top alongside Rajko Lekic as the Revs finally utilized two forwards. Though the end result was the same, the move appeared to aid the Revs in their offensive forays.

“We played better tonight,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “Whether it be the opponent or whether it be we coming out and taking it to them, we definitely played better in the 4-4-2. But at the end of the day we got one point and that’s not good enough being at home against a lesser opponent, in my opinion, than we were tonight.”

The Revs started strong and had an early opportunity off a 3rd minute corner kick when Chris Tierney found Lekic about 10 yards from goal. Lekic powered a header on frame, but it was right at Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei who easily made the save.

Six minutes later Mansally broke free of the defense on a long pass out of the midfield and looked to find Zak Boggs on the right side of the box. Boggs ran onto the pass, but the service from Mansally was a bit heavy and left the second-year midfielder with a tough angle to shoot from. His shot sailed high of the target.

Toronto’s first opportunity of the match came in the 15th minute when Alan Gordon cut through the left side of the Revolution box. Gordon sent a pass back to Joao Plata at the top of the box who hit a shot towards the lower corner of the near post. Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis dove to tip the ball wide for a corner kick.

Just a couple minutes later Donell Henry came close for the visitors, rising above the defense to reach a Nathan Sturgis corner. Henry’s header was just high of the net.

Tierney nearly made something out of nothing with a blast from over 30 yards out on the left flank in the 20th minute. His effort was close to the near post and forced a diving save out of Frei, earning the Revs a corner kick.

Toronto threatened again on a corner in the 36th minute. This time Sturgis found Mikael Yourassowsky, who headed a shot on frame that beat Reis, but was cleared off the line by Kevin Alston.

Looking to further spark the attack the Revs brought on the speedy Sainey Nyassi at halftime for Boggs. Nyassi nearly had a quick impact helping to set up a chance five minutes later when he found Lekic in the box. Lekic, with his back to goal, found Joseph rushing towards the top of the box. The Revs captain blasted a shot on frame, but it was right at Frei who made the save and then came out to collect the rebound before Tierney could get a foot on it.

Lekic had another great chance for the Revs eight minutes later when Kevin Alston got the ball to the endline and sent in a long cross into the box. Alston found Lekic in space and the Danish striker volleyed a low shot that rolled wide of the far post.

Lekic squandered yet another golden opportunity after a mix-up in the Toronto defense allowed Mansally to take the ball from a flatfooted Henry and dribble in on goal in the 71st minute. Mansally sent a pass across goal to an open Lekic who could’ve had an easy tap-in, but the veteran forward was a step too slow to reach the ball.

“We’ve gotten to a point in the season where we’re on the bottom looking up,” said Reis. “We need three points and we’ve created enough chances to win games the last two games, but we haven’t done it. That’s really frustrating.”

Gordon came close to getting a late winner for Toronto against the run of play in the 85th minute after a cross by substitute Gianluca Zavarise on a quick corner. Gordon rose above the defense and sent a header just wide of the post.

The Revs gained a man advantage heading into stoppage time when Zavarise was ejected for a second yellow card on a handball. Zavarise had earned a caution just a few minutes prior for stepping in front of the Revs attempted quick free kick.

Joseph had one last chance for the Revs in the dying moments of stoppage time when Mansally again forced a turnover on the left flank. Mansally dribbled forward and passed the ball to Schilawski who then sent it back to Joseph at the top of the box. Joseph rocketed a shot towards goal, but his effort was just tipped over by Frei.

The Revs return to action on Saturday at Gillette Stadium against another struggling Eastern Conference foe, the Chicago Fire.

“We just need to be encouraged that we have plenty of the ball in the final third,” said Nicol. “We have to be positive, and we were as positive as much as we’ve been to get into the final third. But we just didn’t have that quality when it was needed.”

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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