Shalrie Absent in San Jose

Posted on 15 April 2010 by Hank Alexandre

Shalrie Joseph of the New England Revolution did not travel with the team to San Jose for this Saturday’s match up vs. the San Jose Earthquakes.

Joseph, who played the full ninety minutes in the Revs’ home opener last Satuday, had missed the first two games of the season while suffering from a hip flexor (strained hip muscle).  It seems that playing in the 4-1 win over Toronto FC, he may have re-aggravated that injury.

Early last week, at the Revolution’s annual Media Day, Joseph had not participated in the full practice.  Instead, he spent the majority of the training session working out with Taylor Twellman, who himself is still recovering from a head and neck injury sustained nearly two years ago.  When asked how he was progressing, Joseph was cautious but positive. “It’s coming along slowly. I just have to be patient and make sure its right before pushing it hard.  I’m optimistic – it goes day by day, I’ll see how it feels.  We’re only two games into the season and we’re still .500, so there’s no reason for me to rush it when the team’s still doing good.”

However, Joseph’s return to the line up had an immediate impact to the team’s performance on Saturday night.   Listening to teammate Kheli Dube after the game, Joseph’s presence on the pitch was a real confidence boost. “You know, the difference that Shalrie brings to the team, it’s just unbelievable.  Having him there, giving us balls to the feet, he makes it easy for me and Zack [Schilawski] to have chances like that”.

Those chances all came in the second half.  Spurred on by Joseph, the Revolution tore apart the hapless Toronto defense.  Zack Schilawski led the scoring with the fastest hat trick in Revolution history in just his third professional game, but Joseph was the catalyst.

In Joseph’s absence, head coach will most likely turn to 3rd year defensive midfielder Pat Phelan.  Phelan, who started the first two games of the season with Shalrie unavailable, will be looking to prove his worth along side newcomer Joseph Niouky.  Phelan, who registered his first shot on goal of the season against DC United two weeks ago, will be looking to link up with the likes of Shilawski and Dube, who has scored twice in his career against San Jose, as well as wingers Sainey Nyassi and Chris Tierney.

Given the narrow pitch at Buck Shaw Stadium,  Phelan may get plenty of opportunities to get into the attack.  However, the Revolution will be limited in exploiting the flanks as they did against Toronto.  If the Revs can’t utilize their speed in the wings, Coach Nicol may turn to recent signing Marko Perovic, an attacking midfielder that can play on the left or behind the strikers.

San Jose will most likely be starting a line up similar to the one they played last week against Chicago.  Arturo Alvarez and Ryan Johnson will be playing up front with Joey Gjertsen and Bobby Convey on the wings.  Also available is Scott Sealy, who recently re-signed with San Jose after plying his trade in Israel.

Veteran goal keeper Joe Cannon will be leading the defensive effort from the back with Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, and Captain Ramiro Corrales.  But the most anticipated match up will be the one between former Wake Forest team mates Zack Schilawski and San Jose Rookie Defender Ike Opara.  Opara, who went 3rd in the 2010 MLS Super Draft, is a strong defender but also gets into the attack.  Opara netted the first goal of his career last Saturday when he scored the game winner, a well-struck header, against the Chicago Fire.

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