On an incredibly dreary night for soccer, in a match played on a heavily rain-soaked pitch, the New England Revolution did what they hadn't done since September of 2009: WIn on the west coast. Sparked by a fast start and an early goal from rookie Kelyn Rowe, New England defeated the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy, 3-1 at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
The victory brought New England to 2-2-0 on the season, vaulting them into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 6 points in the early MLS Season, while sending Los Angeles to it's second defeat of the young campaign.
While they were without their captain Landon Donovan (the midfielder missed the match due to a quad injury), the Galaxy fielded a very strong squad, anchored by veterans David Beckham, Robbie Keane, and Edson Buddle. Coming off of a week's worth of rest, LA loked sluggish, and a bit rusty from the start, and it was all New England for big stretches of the first half.
The match was turned on its head incredibly early, when rookie sensation Kelyn Rowe was picked out by Shalrie Joseph on a long pass into the box, and after his first effort was saved by Galaxy 'keeper Josh Saunders, the UCLA product gathered the quick rebound and popped it into the roof of the net. After only ten minutes, New England had the early goal they so desperately needed.
Los Angeles barely had any time to regroup, as New England added to their tally four minutes later. A great one-two down the right flank between Shalrie Joseph and Kevin Alston freed the Revolution right-back into the box who then sent across the face of goal behind the Galaxy back line, and it was Chris Tierney who got to the cross first and buried it into the back of the net, doubling the Revs lead in only the 14th minute.
New England continued the pressure throughout the first half, and the tally was almost increased to three when The Revs were awarded a free kick in the 35th minute about 30 yards from the Galaxy goal. It was goal-scorer Chris Tierney who unleashed a venomous free kick that could only be stopped by a diving Saunders, who was able to parry it away to safety, keeping the deficit at two.
There was a moment of unease for Revs fans right before the stroke of half time, when Shalrie Joseph committed a foul just under 30 yards from goal, giving the ever-dangerous David Beckham a free kick opportunity in a scoring position. The Englishman unleashed a low, bending ball that somehow cleared the wall but bounced in front of Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, deflecting off the 'keeper and then off the post before it could be played out of bounds, ending the threat, as well as the half.
In a surprising development, David Beckham was substituted off at the half, giving the Galaxy one less threat on the field and certainly making them far less dangerous on set pieces. The move was classified as a coach's decision, ruling out injury, which could only increase the criticism of the controversial move.
New England also made a move at the half, inserting the newly-acquired Florian Lechner for a seemingly-injured Kevin Alston (it was later reported that Alston had tweaked his hamstring, and given his history, the substitution was precautionary).
The Galaxy almost created instant offense right after the restart, but once again the solid play of Clyde SImms came to the rescue of the Revolution defense, and the match remained at 2-0 as the second half got underway.
New England continued to control the match in the early stages of the second half, continuing to show great patience and possession of the ball in all phases of the match. The patience was finally rewarded when the Revs found the perfect opportunity to counter-attack and the speed of Ryan Guy created enough space to serve in a solid cross into the Galaxy box that was met by the soaring Saer Sene, who headed the cross into the lower corner of the net. With less than a half hour remaining and a three goal lead, New England had put the nail in the coffin.
Los Angeles did manage to find a consolation goal in the 78th minute, when Edson Buddle played the picture-perfect ball to Irish striker extraordinaire Robbie Keane, whose deft fake got Reis to go to the ground, and the resulting finish was automatic.
After a few mild-mannered scoring chances late on in the match from Los Angeles, the final whistle blew at the Home Depot Center and it was New England emerging victorious for the first time in the pacific time zone in almost three years.
The Revolution will remain on the road for the rest of the week instead of returning home to Foxboro ahead of their Thursday night fixture with FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. The match will already be New England's fourth away match in five, and should also mark the debut of "The Striker Who Shall Not Be Named".