Despite spending most of the second half with more players on the pitch, the Revolution were unable to take home three points from their first encounter with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night. Referee Baldomero Toledo stole the show by issuing three red cards and a controversial penalty in a match characterized by erratic passing and poor officiating.
Eric Hassli opened the scoring for Vancouver despite already being a man down in the 55th minute when he converted a penalty, but he was sent off for a second yellow when he removed his shirt in celebration. Ilija Stolica, making his first appearance of the season, converted a close-range shot in stoppage time to save New England's blushes.
The Revolution had the first really clear chance of the match in the 12th minute when Sainey Nyassi found himself played into space at the top of the box by Didier Domi and cranked a low shot just wide of the near post. The Whitecaps responded ten minutes later through Atiba Harris, who ran onto a diagonal ball into the box and rasped a tricky shot low toward the near post, but Bobby Shuttleworth was equal to it and managed to get low enough to make the save.
The first half saw a lot of encouraging buildup from both sides, with good chances and half-chances generated that just lacked that final ball or the polished finish. Stephen McCarthy had the clearest chance of the half for the Revolution in the 43rd minute when he rose highest to nod home a Zak Boggs corner, but Nizar Khalfan was lurking and managed to block it before it crossed the goal line with Jay Nolly beaten.
Just a minute later, Gershon Koffie challenged Pat Phelan for a header and lead with his elbow, catching the New England midfielder in the jaw. Toledo wasted no time brandishing the red card and giving the Ghanaian his marching orders. The red card may have been a little harsh but it didn't look to be a bad call.
Sainey Nyassi wrapped up first half action by launching a curling shot directly at Jay Nolly when he had a multitude of options awaiting him in the box. Zack Schilawski (one of said options) showed visible frustration with the Gambian winger after the play.
Second half recap after the jump.
Vancouver brought on designated player Eric Hassli after the interval to balance their now-unbalanced attack. It took just ten minutes for his impact to be felt, and for Baldomero Toledo's howler to truly begin.
In the 55th minute, Zak Boggs chased Camilo Sanvezzo into the box and brought him down with incidental contact. Toledo awarded the penalty despite the fact that it looked as though Camilo had no real chance at the ball anyway. Hassli converted the penalty but, during his celebration, was shown a yellow card for removing his shirt, despite the fact that he wore an identical jersey beneath it (according to FIFA rules, shirt removal is a yellow regardless). It was his second, and he was summarily dismissed.
New England spent the next 20 minutes with a two-man advantage, but rather than take control of the match and dominate, the Revs instead began passing the ball even worse and resulting to overly direct long-ball tactics as they pressed for a goal. Finally, Baldomero Toledo elected to leave a further imprint on the match in the 75th minute when he showed A.J. Soares a very questionable straight red card for a late challenge on Atiba Harris.
Now carrying a one-man advantage, the Revolution still struggled. Forwards Zack Schilawski and Ilija Stolica (brought on as a substitute) struggled to get touches while dealing with sub-par service from midfield. Things started looking up just after the red card, though, thanks to the inclusion of Chris Tierney, who was brought on for the ineffective Sainey Nyassi just moments before Soares' dismissal.
Tierney nearly had the equalizer for the Revs in the 82nd minute when he lined up a free kick after a Nizar Khalfan hand ball just outside the box. Tierney's shot was on target and had good bend, but Jay Nolly was equal to the task and parried it away. Minutes later he delivered a great cross that Stolica nodded in, but it was whistled back for offside.
The Whitecaps weren't done yet, though, as they were nearly gifted a second goal at the other end by a heinous Didier Domi error, but Atiba Harris failed to get his finish on target. It would be Ilija Stolica, though, making his 2011 season debut, who would settle the hearts of increasingly ornery Revolution fans. Pat Phelan lofted in a long pass from the right side to Zack Schilawski, who expertly flicked a header down to the legs of Stolica. The Serbian target man controlled with his thigh and then snapped a half-volley into the roof of the net to save the Revolution considerable embarrassment.