Revolution topple Wizards
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Following two three-goal losses over an 11-day span, the Revolution were on the brink of a crisis in confidence. But the Steve Nicol's bunch responded as Taylor Twellman's 72d-minute goal provided the difference in a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards last night, solidifying New England's lead in Major League Soccer's overall standings.
The Revolution (11-5-6, 39 points) were without starters Pat Noonan (groin) and Steve Ralston (flu-like symptoms) and were playing their sixth game this month. The Wizards (8-7-5, 29 points) had not played since Aug. 2; but the Revolution seemed just as fresh and were motivated to prove themselves after a 3-0 loss at Colorado Thursday.
"The difference was the defense, the work we put in," said Twellman, who scored his 10th goal of the season. "The back three and the midfield were top-notch -- that's the engine of this team.
"We've been frustrated, the losses to D.C. (3-0) and Colorado were uncharacteristic of us. We wanted to bounce back from adversity and show what we could do."
Shalrie Joseph started the deciding sequence, winning possession in the center circle from central defender Jimmy Conrad and sending the ball into space with his right foot. With Conrad out of the play, Khano Smith ran onto the ball, took a touch into the penalty area, then curved a cross through the goal area between goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and defender Nick Garcia. Twellman finished at the back post, sliding through the goal area.
"Shalrie played a good ball and [Smith] was able to take a touch and whip it to the back post," Twellman said. "I tried to stay on [Garcia's] back shoulder and when [Smith] kicked it I got on my horse and got to it.
"Now, we have some time to recover and get ready for New York [Saturday] and the US Open Cup."
The Revolution began the match aggressively. Twellman slammed a 25-yard shot from the right of the penalty area in the opening seconds, Hartman's diving save leading to a corner kick. Adam Cristman headed wide twice, in the first minute and off an Andy Dorman free kick in the 16th.
Dorman, Joseph, and Jeff Larentowicz stifled the Wizard midfield and converted turnovers into counterattacks. And the Revolution remained compact defensively as Jay Heaps [left calf] was replaced by James Riley after halftime.
"We asked before the game that, after our last performance, if we had the passion and desire to win the battle," Nicol said. "This showed what the team is made of. We thoroughly deserved to win. The referee [Jair Maruffo] didn't give us anything at all.
"We battled in the middle of the park, defended when we had to. Playing away from home you have to do that. You have to be on guard against them."
The Revolution surrendered three goals to Eddie Johnson in a 4-3 loss May 26, but have blanked the Wizards twice in succession.
The Wizards seldom threatened in the first half, but after Argentine Eloy Colombano made his MLS debut in place of Yura Movsisyan, they earned several free kicks near the penalty area early in the second half. A Carlos Marinelli cross (68th) to the back post was headed out of the goal area by Riley and cleared by Michael Parkhurst.
"Other than that, they didn't threaten," Parkhurst said. "Our midfielders closed them down and did not give them time to pick up their heads to find Eddie and their forwards, and that makes our life a lot easier.
"It was good to have a quick turnaround. Obviously, any professional does not want to put out a performance like we did Thursday -- it was embarrassing. But we showed a lot of courage and fight and came out on top in most challenges. We take pride in getting shutouts and this makes up a little for that three-spot in Colorado."
The Wizards went forward aggressively in the final minutes, adding forward Scott Sealy in place of Jack Jewsbury, and sending Conrad forward. But the Revolution exploited the space, threatening as Joseph headed wide (77th) off a corner and Smith fired wide (79th), the Wizards' frustration becoming evident as Conrad (78th) and Marinelli (89th) were cautioned.
"We are still looking to be more consistent," Parkhurst said. "We've had more than a couple awful performances and we need to eliminate those type of games down the stretch, because they take a lot out of you."
Conrad sustained a right thigh bruise and is questionable for the Wizards' game against Chicago Wednesday . . . The Wizards have not won a game since a 3-2 victory over Chivas USA July 29.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.