Shalrie Joseph put all of his offseason transgressions behind him and proved why he wears the captain's armband tonight in rainy Carson, California as he led the New England Revolution to a creditable draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The match was played through torrential rains that formed puddles on the pitch and forced sloppy play.
The Revs took an early lead just 3 minutes in when Joseph headed home an excellent Marko Perovic cross. Juninho equalized for the home side in the 39th minute with an absolute laser from 20 yards. It could have been far worse for the Revolution if the Galaxy hadn't had three goals called back.
Steve Nicol turned a lot of heads by starting in a 4-3-3 formation with Zack Schilawski as the lone striker. Usual starter Sainey Nyassi began the match on the bench and Serbian target striker Ilija Stolica didn't feature. Rookies A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy made their MLS debuts along with young Argentinian defender Franco Coria.
Full recap after the jump.
It took almost no time at all for New England to get on the board. Perovic got hold of the ball to send in a second cross after his corner kick was poorly cleared, and his in-swinger met the head of a diving Shalrie Joseph, who had deftly shed Leonardo at the far post.
The goal was very important for Joseph, who has had to deal with the ignominy of a trespassing arrest during the Revs' preseason camp in Orlando. Amid questions of his leadership ability and whether or not he deserves to be captain, the Grenadian proved once again his value as the talisman on the pitch.
From that point forward, it was all Los Angeles. The Galaxy dominated possession and mounted extended sieges upon the visitors' goal. In the 17th minute they looked to have equalized when Matt Reis spilled a David Beckham free kick in the box and it was swept home by Juninho. Referee Hilario Grajada saw differently, however, and whistled Mike Magee for interfering with the goalkeeper, though replays didn't bear that out.
Disaster may have struck for the Revolution in the 22nd minute when Marko Perovic went down with an apparent leg injury. He had to go off and was replaced by Kenny Mansally. Last season's team leader in goals, Perovic will be key to the Revs this campaign and they can ill-afford a long absence for him.
The second disallowed goal came in the 23rd minute. Mike Magee was involved again as he knocked a rebound into the back of the net, but it was waved for offside.
Galaxy fans finally got what they were looking for in the 39th minute when the ball ended up in goal and the whistle stayed in Grajada's pocket. Soares scuffed a clearance out to an onrushing Juninho, and the Brazilian wasted no time before unleashing a vicious, knuckling drive that bamboozled Reis and left no doubt for the officiating crew.
The Revs rode out continued LA pressure until the interval. Honestly, between the opening goal and the halftime whistle it seemed as though no one with a blue shirt touched the ball, and New England was incredibly fortunate to go into the locker room tied.
The second half was a different story. Los Angeles found themselves unable to impose their will on the game for any length of time any more, and the Revs showed signs of settling into the new formation and got a bit of a rhythm going.
New England nearly took the lead in the 65th minute when Shalrie Joseph picked up on a scuffed shot from Schilawski and rounded Josh Saunders, but his shot clanged off the right post and away.
David Beckham and Mike Magee both went close late for the Galaxy, but the final injustice for the home side came in stoppage time. Debutant Juan Pablo Angel looked to have scored the winner in the 92nd minute, but it was (rightfully) flagged for offside.
Further reactions and insight to come tomorrow.