Tag Archive | "Ilija Stolica"

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Revs to Face Dynamo, Honor Ralston

Posted on 12 August 2010 by sstoehrst

A familiar face returns to Gillette Stadium on Saturday as Steve Ralston will be honored pre-kickoff for his service as a Revolution player.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, he’ll be wearing the colors of the opposing side. Ralston was recently hired as the Houston Dynamo’s assistant coach, replacing long-time second-in-command John Spencer. “Rally” is the MLS all-time leader in assists (135), starts (372) and minutes played (143), having joined the Revolution in 2002 after six seasons with the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny.

The sentimentality won’t last past the opening kickoff. Over the last decade or so the Revolution and the Dynamo have cultivated a healthy rivalry, including two meetings in the MLS Cup Final (Houston won both, in ’06 and ’07) and a SuperLiga final in 2008 (the Revolution won on penalties).

Entering Saturday’s contest, New England is riding a streak of fine form, posting a 5-0-2 record and a +6 goal differential in their last seven matches. The key to their success has been defense; despite only scoring eight goals in that span they’ve conceded just two, and the chemistry between Darrius Barnes, Cory Gibbs and Emmanuel Osei has served to frustrate opponents for the last month and a half.

Houston, on the other hand, is suffering through a slump. They’ve gone just 2-4-4 and their last ten fixtures and remain winless in all nine of their previous league games. Last week’s performance against Seattle was deplorable and even coach Dominic Kinnear was at a loss to find any positives in the contest other than the inspired play of young goalkeeper Tally Hall.

Steve Nicol has already announced that he plans to start Serbian newcomer Ilija Stolica for the first time on Saturday, and Marko Perovic is reportedly fit again after missing last week due to a calf strain. It will be interesting to see how the duo interact, with Stolica likely tasked as the target man up front, holding the ball and bringing others into the play. Perovic will be his most common partner in this scheme, making runs off the ball and looking for the space to continue his blistering offensive form.

Saturday’s match is a statement game for the Revs. Despite their recent woes Houston is still a team with quality all over the pitch, and New England went a long stretch earlier this season without showing any sort of resilience in the face of superior opposition. Expect this to be a tightly-contested affair that will indicate the high-water mark of the Revs’ resurgence; either they’ll get a result and continue to force their way into the playoff picture, or they will crumble, and the Revolution faithful can probably start counting down the days until next season.

Lineup Forecast

4-4-1-1

Reis; Osei, Barnes, Gibbs, Sinovic; Nyassi, Joseph, Phelan, Tierney; Perovic; Stolica

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Revolution Friday Update

Posted on 30 July 2010 by sstoehrst

I’m going to try and start a new weekly feature where every Friday Hank and/or I give a brief rundown of the week’s interesting news items, with opinion. Once replaced as the lead story, these articles will be available in the “Also Noted” section in the center of the page. Now, onto the news!

The breaking news in Revs camp is the announcement of two new signings from the international free-transfer market. Serbian forward Ilija Stolica and Brazilian attacking midfielder Roberto “Betu” Linck have inked contracts with MLS and will meet up with the Revolution after tomorrow’s trip to Philadelphia.

Stolica, 31, is a tall and strong forward who most recently plied his trade at FC Buducnost in Montenegro. He, like Marko Perovic, is a former Serbian youth international and Olympian, and will be expected to slot in quickly alongside Schilawski and Perovic up front. With Dube out for a couple weeks, Stolica should see action right away. His transfer is pending receipt of his P-1 Visa.

Betu is a younger player at 22 who, interestingly, will not count as an international player for roster purposes. Betu is a veteran of Gremio’s youth system but moved the US in 2002. He played college soccer at Irvine Valley College in California and also in the US Indoor Xtreme Soccer League with the Chicago Storm. He spent last season with Romanian second-division side CSM Râmnicu Vâlcea and is awaiting his international Transfer Certificate.

Both moves seem to be steps in the right direction – since the defense has apparently sorted itself out with the return of Darrius Barnes, the biggest problem facing the Revolution has been in attack. 15 goals in 15 MLS matches simply won’t cut it, and New England can’t rely on flashes of brilliance from Perovic and the occasional goal at home from Schilawski if they want to make a playoff push.

On the other hand, do the Revs really need more unknown international Bosman players? In a summer where New York has grabbed Henry and (apparently) Marquez, Chicago signed Nery Castillo, and Seattle added another DP in the Uruguayan World Cup vet Alvaro Fernández, it doesn’t say much for the organization to continue to deal in nameless players from the dredges of the European leagues. Nothing against the Montenegran top flight or Romania’s division 2, but shouldn’t MLS teams be shooting a little higher?

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The other big news item this week has been the announcement that the New England will be opening both sides of the bowl for seating at Gillette next season. Season tickets will be available at in prime Category I midfield seats and other sections in Category II and Category III areas will also be open.

This is certainly an exciting development but, to be frank, are the Revs really making up the kind of numbers that should encourage this move? The benefits for stadium atmosphere and acoustics are obvious, but unless the real problem of failing attendance numbers is addressed you’re just going to end up spreading 10,000 lonely souls over a larger surface area. In a cavernous place like Gillette that can often have the opposite effect of what the Revs Front Office is looking for.

On the injury front, Kheli Dube will miss the clash with the Union tomorrow with a knee ligament strain. He’ll be staying in Foxboro along with Nico Colaluca (ankle), Zak Boggs (concussion), Jason Griffiths (hamstring) and Edgaras Jankauskas (adductor). Preston Burpo (leg), though on the season-ending injury list, will be traveling with the squad to Philadelphia to watch the game and be among his teammates.

And finally some fun, as Shalrie Joseph joined fellow MLS All-Stars and several Manchester United stars, including Ryan Giggs, for a tour of NASA’s Houston facilities on Tuesday. Jeff Lemieux posted pictures on the Revs official blog, and you can view them here.

Opinions on the new signings? Do you think opening the whole bowl is a good idea? Leave questions and comments below!

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