|Kheli Dube, who did it all for the Revolution offensively, battles Real Salt Lake’s Robbie Russell. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)|
Dube does the trick
His three goals pace Revolution
FOXBOROUGH - Kheli Dube didn’t want the credit for the performance that lifted the Revolution to victory last night. So give it to his right foot.
Dube scored three times with his right foot to pick up the Revolution’s first hat trick since 2005. He said his teammates made great passes. But at the end of those passes was Dube’s foot, chipping, striking, and converting the goals that led to a 3-1 victory against Real Salt Lake in front of 10,552 at Gillette Stadium.
Dube’s speed and fresh legs helped earn him a spot in the starting lineup for the first time since a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy Aug. 8.
“I was happy for my chance; tomorrow it could be somebody else,’’ Dube said. “I’m just going to celebrate having a hat trick, but I’m not going to take credit for it.’’
Revolution coach Steve Nicol tried to combat a cross-country road trip from Seattle with a fresh batch of players who were rested after Thursday’s 1-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC.
With forward Edgaras Jankauskas out with a left adductor strain, midfielder Kenny Mansally nursing a calf strain, and midfielder Steve Ralston getting a break, Nicol looked to his bench. Joining Dube was midfielder Mauricio Castro, who started for the first time this season, and midfielder Michael Videira, who collected his fourth start of the year and first since July 11. Midfielder Wells Thompson also found himself among the starting 11.
Mansally and Ralston picked up some playing time in the closing minutes, but by then the Revolution (8-6-6, 30 points) were holding on for the win.
The mix-and-match lineup produced the most goals since the Revolution’s 4-0 win against the New York Red Bulls June 7. That was also the last time a Revolution player scored multiple goals in one game, with Taylor Twellman scoring his 100th and 101st career goals in that victory.
“The few changes we made all worked,’’ Nicol said. “Fresh legs gave us that energy and it kind of spread to the rest of the team.’’
Dube scored his first goal on a play that developed long before he saw the ball. Goalkeeper Matt Reis, who had eight saves, played the ball in to Jay Heaps, who then made the pass to Castro who was sprinting along the left side. Castro’s cross connected with Dube, who chipped in an uncontested shot in the ninth minute.
Later in the half, Videira dipped around Real defender Robbie Russell and launched an attempt that sent goalkeeper Nick Rimando diving for the save. But Rimando was unable to corral the ball and Dube sprinted in for the rebound for a 2-0 lead in the 29th minute.
“Kheli brings that kind of momentum to our team,’’ Shalrie Joseph said. “He stretches the defenders and we need that a lot, especially the way we play sometimes. It [worked] for him [last night] because he’s been working hard to get back in the starting lineup.’’
Joseph waited for Dube to set up the last goal in the 66th minute. He camped along the right side and delivered the perfect pass to Dube, who was in the box and able to deflect the ball into the lower right side of the net.
Real Salt Lake got their only tally in the 85th minute, an own goal that went in off Darrius Barnes’s knee.
Dube’s first career hat trick became the eighth in Revolution history and the first since Twellman accomplished the feat in 2005. Dube, who is in his second MLS season, also moved into the team lead for goals with Ralston and Joseph with six.
The victory also helped the Revolution in the standings.
After entering the weekend tied with Real Salt Lake (7-9-6), the win pushed the Revolution into a tie with Colorado and Toronto for the final two playoff spots. The top two teams in each conference advance to the playoffs and the next four teams with the most points (regardless of conference) get wild-card berths.
Monique Walker can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.