FOXBOROUGH, Mass -- The New England Revolution fell 2-0 to a Real Salt Lake side that rested nine starters in a match again characterized by controversial refereeing. Jasen Anno issued three red cards - two to the Revs - and showed a general inconsistency in his officiating. After tonight, the last two matches New England has been involved in have featured six ejections.
Chris Schuler opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a header off the corner. Paulo Junior rounded it out just after halftime with a well-placed strike after a breakaway, but the fireworks had hardly started. Shalrie Joseph, Pat Phelan and Will Johnson saw red and there were nearly several melees as animosity threatened to fly out of control.
The match opened with little of note occurring in the first twenty minutes. Play was chippy with a lot of fouls committed by Real Salt Lake, but the Revolution were unable to take advantage and create anything dangerous. The match was characterized by giveaways and poor passing from both teams.
Despite playing a depleted lineup, Salt Lake took the initiative first in the 21st minute. Will Johnson unleashed a dangerous, swerving ball from a free kick about 35 yards out that had Shuttleworth on his toes, but the young 'keeper was able to parry it away from the far post. New England responded four minutes later through Kenny Mansally, who unleashed a wickedly dipping right-footed shot from 30 yards out that nearly asked questions of Reynish but ended up just over the bar.
Real Salt Lake broke the deadlock in the 27th minute. Ned Grabavoy smashed a free kick with serious bend off the right post that was eventually cleared for a corner. Collen Warner delivered a teasing ball to the near post, and Chris Schuler rose above everyone to flick it in across to the far post for his first ever MLS goal.
The goal seemed to wake the Revolution up a little bit, but the next ten minutes or so featured little of note except a trading of yellow cards. Franco Coria was the first to raise the ire of Jasen Anno, seeing yellow for taking down Arturo Alvarez just outside the box with a hip check. Jean Alexandre was next after he took down Marko Perovic at midfield.
Some good dribble work in the 38th minute put Marko Perovic in a dangerous position, and eventually the ball found its way out wide for a cross. It reached the head of an onrushing Zack Schilawski, but the former Wake Forest standout's header was blocked. Just four minutes later, Kevin Alston knocked in a very good cross that met the head of Pat Phelan, but his attempt to flick it to the far post was unsuccessful as the ball sailed wide.
A flurry of chances greeted the halftime whistle. First, Tony Beltran had an excellent effort from the top of the box that Shuttleworth parried but almost lost the rebound before he was able to smother it inside the six. Zack Schilawski ended the half with a weak, looping header that landed at the feet of Reynish.
Read on for all the controversy after the jump.
Steve Nicol elected to make a pair of changes after the interval with Stolica and Nyassi replacing Schilawski and McCarthy, creating a more traditional 4-4-2. The move looked to be paying off early as Stolica and Perovic nearly combined for a goal in the 47th but after being played in, Perovic was unable to get a shot off.
Just a minute later, RSL came back on the break and doubled their advantage. A long pass from their own half found a streaking Paulo Junior who had left Franco Coria for dead. He cut into the box and, after Shuttleworth was slow off his line, fired to the near post and scored.
The Revolution put a few more chances in, including a good header on target from Stolica that Reynish was equal to. The Serbian, returning to the lineup after the injury he suffered in the Galaxy match, also drilled a shot from 25 yards out in the 59th minute but it flashed just wide of the post.
The first real violent incident of the match occurred in the 60th minute when Kevin Alston and Will Johnson came together on the touch line. Alston barged into Johnson and their momentum carried Johnson through the advertising boards. Alston saw yellow, but Arturo Alvarez came across and shoved Alston, nearly sparking a brawl in front of the benches.
Real Salt Lake had the next two dangerous chances through the very left-footed Arturo Alvarez. In the 64th minute he lined up a free kick from 20-22 yards out and nearly had a third goal with a wicked blast that flashed wide of the near post. Three minutes later he skipped across the top of the box from the right flank, settled it onto his left foot and then unleashed a drive that brushed just wide of the near post again. Perovic then put a good shot on frame in the 69th that was well-held by Reynish.
The match turned sour for everyone in the 70th minute. Shalrie Joseph and Kyle Beckerman began exchanging words at midfield, and Joseph appeared to put his hands in Beckerman's face. The contact was minimal, but referee Jasen Anno wasted no time pulling out a straight red card and ejecting the Revolution captain from the match.
Anno was not finished. In the 84th, Pat Phelan came in late on Robbie Russell, earning himself a straight red despite already being on a yellow. Will Johnson, also on a yellow, sprinted across the field to shout at Phelan and get in his face, which the Revs' players did not take too kindly. Didier Domi immediately flew to his teammate's aid, shoving Johnson and almost igniting hostilities in the center circle. Domi saw yellow for his reaction and, after being remonstrated by an uncharacteristically irate Ilija Stolica, Anno deservedly showed Johnson his second yellow card and gave him his marching orders as well.
With the match reduced to 10 vs. 9 and Real Salt Lake enjoying a two-goal advantage, the rest of regulation passed without much incident. The Royals had a few more dangerous looks but they came to nothing. After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee mercifully blew the final whistle.