Revolution rally around fallen Ralston
FOXBOROUGH - With the Revolution trailing, 1-0, captain Steve Ralston went to the Gillette Stadium turf in the 19th minute last night with what appeared to be a serious right knee injury.
After he came off, the Revolution were able to draw inspiration from it, rallying on two Shalrie Joseph goals for a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders.
The Revolution (10-8-7, 37 points) boosted their playoff chances with five games remaining, but likely will be without Ralston for visits to FC Dallas Wednesday and Colorado Saturday. Ralston will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test tomorrow, according to a Revolution source.
“This was a must-win,’’ defender Jay Heaps said. “Steve Ralston is the heart and soul of this team and losing him is tough.
“We were in here at halftime and we saw him on crutches and we knew we were going to have to go out and battle, and everyone raised their game in the second half.
“Without question, Ralston is our best player as far as skill. At halftime that was the heart of our speech: ‘Let’s do it for Rallie.’ ’’
Seattle (9-7-11, 38 points) took the lead on a sixth-minute Fredy Montero goal. Montero’s attempt appeared to take nearly everyone by surprise. Goalkeeper Matt Reis was standing several feet off his line and made no attempt to go after the ball.
Montero’s shot dipped just before reaching the goal, then hit the underside of the crossbar.
The Revolution settled down and seemed to be playing a better possession game as Ralston went down contesting a high ball with Osvaldo Alonso. Ralston was helped off the field, and was replaced by Kheli Dube.
“At this stage of the season, it’s all about results and points,’’ Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “Up until [Ralston’s injury], to be honest, we were fast asleep. We keep talking before the game about starting well, and we said before it’s easy for everybody to talk about it - and we didn’t do it. So, we’ve fought ourselves out of a big hole, which shows the steel of the team, but we’re not always going to get away with starting slow.’’
Despite losing Ralston, one of their most technical players, the Revolution gained composure and began threatening with fluent passing combinations. Edgaras Jankauskas barely missed wide with headers off crosses from Sainey Nyassi and Heaps.
Dube, off a Nyassi feed, one-timed an attempt off target just before a penalty kick that tied the game. The PK was set up as defender Leo Gonzalez used his arms to block a Dube cross. Joseph powered the penalty kick high to Kasey Keller’s right.
Jankauskas (groin) departed in the 70th minute, Pat Phelan moving to midfield and Joseph pairing with Dube at forward. The Dube-Joseph combination changed the dynamic, Dube’s speed and Joseph’s strength giving the Sounders problems.
Joseph then decided the match, placing an open header to Keller’s left off a Jeff Larentowicz cross in the 87th minute, his eighth goal of the season and 24th of his career, tying Wolde Harris for sixth on the all-time Revolution scoring list.
“The header’s a fantastic goal,’’ Nicol said. “It was a great cross and a magic header. You won’t see a better header all season . . . That’s why proper strikers get paid a lot of money - it’s not easy.’’
The Revolution became the first team to rally for a victory over the Sounders, who are 8-1-3 when scoring first.
“Jeff played me a great ball and I wanted to put it in the corner,’’ Joseph said. “There was one guy in front of me and I saw him clear out. I just wanted to put it on target and put it in the corner, and once I saw Kasey in the middle, I picked out my corner.’’