DENVER -- The more the Revolution lose central defenders, the better they appear to be defensively. After losing three central defenders to injuries, the Revolution held two opponents scoreless for 166 successive minutes, then lost another central defender in gaining their first shutout last night.
Shalrie Joseph, playing with a broken nose, was ejected in the 75th minute, but the Revolution held on for a 0-0 tie with the Colorado Rapids. This was an encouraging result for the Revolution, though Joseph will miss their visit to Columbus a week from today after being red-carded by referee Jair Marrufo for pulling down Chris Henderson from behind. The Revolution (1-2-2) failed to adjust to the loss of Carlos Llamosa (knee) and had surrendered six goals in their opening two matches, but they have regained confidence and have not trailed in a game for 270 successive minutes.
And, though the Rapids had the better chances late in the match, the Revolution had some excellent opportunities to take the lead through Taylor Twellman, who had two point-blank shots saved by Joe Cannon.
"We kept it tight and we were pretty secure, and we had some chances ourselves," said Revolution coach Steve Nicol. "When we lose Shalrie, he is a big influence, plus he is a center back, but we dug in for 20 minutes. It got real scary at the end but the guys showed their guts. We kept a good shape, although [the Rapids] obviously have a huge advantage playing here, and it's not surprising they don't lose when they play at home."
The Rapids (1-1-3) extended their home unbeaten streak to 15 games, tying the MLS record set most recently by San Jose in the 2001-02 seasons. The Rapids had several chances to decide the match in the late going. In the 84th minute, Mark Chung headed a Matt Crawford cross off the post. Seconds later, Henderson advanced to the goal area, but his cross was deflected by Revolution goalkeeper Adin Brown. Rapids coach Tim Hankinson made a strange substitution, replacing forward Jean Philippe Peguero with defender Gary Sullivan. But Sullivan nearly decided the result. With seconds remaining in injury time, Brown stopped a deceptive shot by Crawford and Steve Ralston blocked Sullivan's follow. After Marrufo added another minute because of an injury to Clint Dempsey, Brown stopped a header by Sullivan and another low shot by Henderson.
Joseph said he was recovering after the Revolution's offside trap had not been called by the linesman, leaving Henderson free on his way to the penalty area.
"We stepped up to catch them offside but they didn't call anything," Joseph said. "But we weren't putting pressure on the ball, so their midfield had a lot of time. I realized I had to get back and I tried to get on the inside of [Henderson] and probably used my hand a little too much.
"Our defense played great, starting from the [forwards]. But we need to win the ball more and possess the ball. We are not getting the ball from the midfield to the forwards. And we need to get more pressure on the ball in the middle of the park -- that is where the red card came from."
The Rapids earned eight first-half corner kicks, and only some remarkable recoveries by Brown and defenders Brian Kamler and Marshall Leonard prevented goals.
Twellman's enterprise produced two excellent chances in the first half. Twellman flicked the ball over Nat Borchers before being stopped by Pablo Mastroeni and Cannon in the 24th minute. And Twellman slammed a low shot that Cannon deflected off the bar in the 42d minute.
The Revolution began the second half with an improved attack, relieving some pressure from the defense. In the 57th minute, Jose Cancela flicked the ball to Twellman, who controlled off his chest and volleyed from the edge of the goal area, his hard shot slamming off Cannon's face. Cannon remained on the ground, but Noonan's rebound was blocked by Mastroeni.
But the Revolution soon appeared to lose their edge. Chung ran through the midfield unchecked on a play that began with more than 100 yards from goal on a throw-in at the left corner flag, and concluded with David Castellanos shooting over an open goal. Peguero slipped through a minute later, but Leonard recovered and, though Peguero regained the advantage, his low roller went wide of another open goal.
"We pulled together and got the result," Brown said. "They use the altitude to their advantage, playing a lot of long balls got us tired early. But we not only got a result, we got a shutout, and that is encouraging."