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Striking difference lately in Revolution

The Revolution’s Milton Caraglio is psyched after one of his goals Saturday. The Revolution’s Milton Caraglio is psyched after one of his goals Saturday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / August 22, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Chemistry between strikers usually does not take long to develop. And the Revolution’s Milton Caraglio and Rajko Lekic seemed to be in synch the first time they played together.

Caraglio scored for the first time in four games with the Revolution, tallying both goals in a 2-2 tie with the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. And, for the first time since joining the team last month, he seemed comfortable on the field.

Part of the reason for the Revolution strikers being on the same page is language. Lekic, who played two seasons with Xerez FC in Spain, and Caraglio communicate in Spanish. So, they often do not have to think twice about split-second decisions and reaction moves.

Just as important, Caraglio and Lekic have complementary styles. Caraglio provides back-to-goal hold-up ability, allowing Lekic the freedom to make runs off the ball.

“I am very content because [Caraglio] is a very good player,’’ Lekic said. “He is very strong, so I have more space to play.’’

Caraglio converted in the 15th and 37th minutes. But the Revolution surrendered a goal and Kenny Mansally was ejected early in the second half. Lekic, recovering from a broken toe, was replaced in the 58th minute. And the Red Bulls’ Dane Richards tied the score with his second goal of the game in the 87th minute.

“I’m happy for the two goals [Caraglio] scored, sure,’’ Lekic said. “Like he said, we think the same way, and for this I’m really content. I can play with a forward who knows how to play, who scores goals, and I have more space to play. For this, I can’t wait until the next game.’’

The Revolution (4-11-11, 23 points), who visit Philadelphia Sunday, have been working on finding an effective forward combination all season. And the team might have had an effective pairing in Lekic and the multilingual Ilija Stolica, but Stolica was waived early in the season.

“It’s a lot easier for him, because during the game he tells me things and we talk to each other,’’ Lekic said of Caraglio. “This is good, because we think the same way. I see he is a strong player, so I have to go just a little ways to find space.’’

The Revolution often have played with a single striker on the road and dual forwards at home. They have converted 26 goals in 26 games and appeared on the verge of a breakout offensive performance in the opening half against New York.

“I think two forwards always makes it easier for at least those guys up top, they’re not isolated,’’ Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. “We have options up top. It’s nice to see [Caraglio], a kid that works hard. He didn’t come in here with any expectations of being this and that, and he’s really worked hard. Hopefully, him and Rajko will continue some kind of relationship. That’s the first part, scoring goals, then you can’t give up any.’’

The Revolution failed to develop a possession game in the second half Saturday and the defense eventually broke down as the Red Bulls patiently attacked. This was the fifth successive game in which the Revolution surrendered a goal in or after the 80th minute.

“Another couple of points slipped away,’’ captain Shalrie Joseph said. “And in a couple of months we’re all going to be sad, because, at the end of the day, we’re not able to get into the playoffs, the whole season is a waste.

“But, first half, Rajko and Milton did great combining together. Hopefully, they can stay healthy and work together and I think they might have a good partnership. Milton is starting to get into shape and you can tell he’s going to be a good player. That’s what we’ve been needing, a goal scorer. If he can keep consistently doing that - he does a lot of holding the ball up, allowing us to join into the attack. He’s got great feet, great player, and we need that right now, someone to come in and consistently score goals.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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