New England Soccer Today

Unbeaten records on the line in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, B.C. – When the New England Revolution take on the first-year Vancouver Whitecaps at 10 p.m. tonight, the club’s three game unbeaten streak won’t be the only record at stake. Since 2000, the Revs have never lost in their first meeting with an expansion club, holding a 5-0-3 record when facing a club in its inaugural season for the first time.

Rookie center back A.J. Soares and the Revolution defense face a tough task in Vancouver. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Extending that record, as well as keeping their current unbeaten run in tact – which, by the way, is only the third time in the club’s 16 seasons that the team has gone undefeated in its first three games – will likely be a difficult task for the boys in blue. New England (1-0-2, 5 points), currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference, will be dealing with several key injuries, not to mention a feisty foe in the Whitecaps (1-1-1, 4 points) on Wednesday.

The Revs, who have dealt with the absence of the injured Ousmane Dabo (right quad strain), a projected starter in the midfield, all season, will also be without reigning team MVP/offensive catalyst Marko Perovic (left hamstring strain) and starting center back Franco Coria (left hamstring strain) for the second straight week. To make matters worse, the latest member of the walking wounded is veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis (right abductor strain), who didn’t make the trip to Vancouver and will be replaced by third-year ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

While the Revs have remained unbeaten so far despite a depleted squad, the absences appeared to have caught up with the Revs  this weekend when they drew 1-1 to another expansion side – the Portland Timbers. In that match, the Revs struggled to dictate the tempo and keep possession, even after taking an early lead.

“The bottom line is we didn’t pass the ball well so it wouldn’t have mattered who we played [Saturday],” said Steve Nicol after the draw with Portland. “We didn’t pass the ball at all, all night, and when that happens, you’re going to struggle.”

If the Revs similarly struggle in Vancouver on Wednesday, the result probably won’t be so forgiving. The Whitecaps are third in the league in goals scored with seven after just three games and are unbeaten (1-0-1) in their first two home matches.

Perhaps even more impressive is the manner in which the Whitecaps have gotten results. In their first-ever MLS match, Vancouver, led by their French designated player Eric Hassli, trounced Canadian rival Toronto FC 4-2 to give the raucous 22,000+ home fans at Empire Field even more to cheer about. That match was followed by a disappointing 1-0 road loss against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia in which the visitors matched the hosts in a competitive affair until giving up a late goal after Hassli was ejected in the 57th minute.

With Hassli still out of the fold the following week, Vancouver fell into a 3-0 hole 62 minutes into their match against to a strong Sporting Kansas City side before Brazilian striker Camilo spearheaded a shocking comeback by scoring two goals in stoppage time and helping steer the home side to a remarkable 3-3 draw. That result gave the home supporters a taste of just what their new team was capable of.

The Empire Field crowd will undoubtedly be licking their collective lips at the prospect of Hassli and Camilo, the heroes of the club’s young season, leading the Whitecaps attack together on Wednesday. The two have shown a deadly combination of flair and finishing instinct and could prove to be a nightmare for the young Revs backline to repel.

But adversity is nothing new for a youthful Revs side that has already encountered their fair share of top-class attackers, while also dealing with a long list of absences due to injuries and international call-ups. Though the team was disappointed with Saturday’s draw, they can take pride in knowing they’ve managed to remain unbeaten despite the injuries and admitted room for improvement.

“We’ve still got a lot of growing to do; we’re a young team,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “We’ve still got a lot to work on. We’ll take that point [Saturday], but we’ll be better next game”

One Comment

  1. JRS

    April 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Great article!

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