Tag Archive | "Steve Ralston"

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Revolution Friday Update: 8/13/2010

Posted on 13 August 2010 by sstoehrst

This week’s hot news item is the first visit to Foxboro from Steve Ralston after he took over the assistant coaching job in Houston. An “MLS Original,” Ralston wore the captain’s armband for two years in New England and owns an array of MLS and team records. He will be honored in a pre-kickoff ceremony on Saturday night.

During the Revolution’s historic run of success in the last decade, including eight straight MLS Cup playoff appearances, four MLS Cup Finals, a SuperLiga title and a US Open Cup title, Steve was an essential cog in a talented New England midfield. His almost telepathic understanding with Shalrie Joseph and Taylor Twellman created scores of great memories for the fans in the Fort, and despite the fact that he’s now coaching with the enemy he will always be a loved and respected member of the Revolution family.

New England reached a mutual agreement to terminate the contract of Senegalese midfielder Joseph Niouky on Wednesday. They didn’t cite any specific reasoning behind the deal, but did stress that this move was not made with the intention of opening up a roster spot for player acquisition.

This is a puzzling move at best. It can be lauded in a simple sense, as Niouky was rarely more than a waste of space on the pitch despite starting eleven of the Revs’ first twelve matches this season. His composure was horrible, calling his passes “erratic” could have been complimentary and he accumulated cards and suspensions with reckless abandon. When examined from the pure standpoint of what he brings to the table, cutting Niouky is a move that should have been made months ago.

That said, cutting him after the guaranteed contract deadline and apparently deciding not to utilize the roster spot opened by his departure is baffling. By week three everyone and their mother already knew signing him was a disaster; would it not have been a much better idea to cut him loose before July 1st and avoid having to buy him out? Furthermore, the Revolution have failed to name a full eighteen-man squad for numerous matches this campaign, so removing a body from the roster without some form of replacement seems like an unnecessary gamble.

The injury report released today indicates that Marko Perovic will be fit to start against Houston, which is phenomenal news. Revolution fans should be very interested to see how he interacts with new signing Ilija Stolica in his first MLS start; developing some chemistry between the pair could prove crucial to New England’s hopes of a playoff push.

Kevin Alston may also be available, though he suffered a setback on Thursday that must have Nicol worried. Jason Griffiths should also be available for the first time in a month after suffering a hamstring strain back on July 10th. Despite participating in drills and full-speed training again, Zak Boggs still isn’t allowed to head the ball and won’t be featuring on Saturday as he continues to recover from a concussion.

Kheli Dube, Nico Colaluca, and Edgaras Jankauskas will not be available.

Kick-off for the Revolution versus the Houston Dynamo is scheduled for 8 PM at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

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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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All eyes on Convey in opener

Posted on 18 March 2009 by mdiamond

The post-expansion San Jose Earthquakes open their second season of the new era at home facing the New England Revolution Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium. With their first year under their belt, the Quakes have heavily focused on shoring up last year’s weaknesses, primarily their offense. (See Quakes season preview Quakes Management Makes Big Bets.)

The strength of last year’s team was their back line, which was stingy giving up goals. San Jose lost outside defender James Riley to Seattle in this year’s expansion draft, but acquired a veteran in Chris Leitch from the Red Bulls to shore up the back corner. The Quakes are the third MLS team for the well-traveled Leitch after flip-flopping dual stints with Columbus and the Metrostars/Red Bulls.

A big unknown will be the impact of Bobby Convey, acquired from England’s Championship side Reading. The American played five years there and was a starter when Reading won the League Championship that earned the team a promotion to the Premier League. Convey also saw international competition playing for the US National squad in all three 2006 World Cup games.

Expectations are high for Convey as his experience playing against the world’s best in arguably the best football league should prove invaluable. The Quake’s fans got a taste of thrilling football when Darren Huckerby arrived from Norwich City midseason last year. Huckerby, too, has both Champions and Premier League experience—14 years worth—and at almost 33 years old, is still in his prime. Every time Huckerby touches the ball, he puts defenders on their heels and turns them around, such is his impact. If Convey, who’s only 25, can bring that kind of penetrating skill, the adversary’s defenses will be overmatched. However, Convey joined the team late and has had limited exhibition minutes. In addition, Coach Frank Yallop has penciled him to play central midfield, a change from his left wing spot that he played with Reading.

The Revs field a formidable side anchored by Shalrie Joseph and Steve Ralston in the midfield and the ever-dangerous Taylor Twellman at forward.

Joseph was voted to the MLS Best XI last year, the third time he’s received the honor. His skill at gaining and controlling the ball makes him the team’s focal point and playmaker.

A hard tackle by the Wizard’s Hercules Gomez ended Steve Ralston’s season with a broken leg last October and his potential contribution to the Revs playoff run. Ralston is the career MLS leader in minutes played (31,600), starts (355) and appearances (358). His contribution to the team goes well beyond his experience and leadership. As a winger in 2008 he tied Twellman for the team lead in goals at eight. Ralston, the team captain, was named the team’s MVP for the season.

Twellman has consistently been among the top scorers in MLS. He needs only one more goal to become the youngest player to reach the 100-goal mark in MLS history. His output would be even higher had he not suffered various injuries throughout his career.

New England advanced as far the Conference semifinals in last year’s playoffs and were eliminated by the Chicago Fire as both Ralston and Twellman were sidelined with injuries. It was the first time in seven years that the Revs had not reached the Conference finals. The Revs are probably the most successful team to never have won a MLS Cup.

On the defensive end, Michael Parkhurst left to play in Denmark’s First Division. Parkhurst had played four years with New England winning multiple honors including the 2005 MLS rookie of the year award and 2007 MLS defender of the year award. He had also earned his first cap with the US National Team just after the Revs 2008 season ended.

The back line still has the solid Chris Albright and Jay Heaps, but with the loss of Parkhurst, big questions remain. Costa Rican national Gabriel Badilla will have to step up in central defense, but he’s unproven. Given that the Revs had the league’s second-worst goals-against record at home last year, their prospects seem to have slipped rather than improved. If the Quake’s revamped offense is going to make an impact this year, the Revs are the right team to open against.

After three MLS Cup final appearances and six straight Eastern Conference Championships this decade, New England look to rebuild this year. Much hinges on whether Twellman, Ralston and the rest of the squad can stay healthy. In their last preseason warm up against the Carolina RailHawks this past Saturday, Twellman, Ralston, Badilla, and Mauricio Castro nursed injuries and didn’t suit up. Presumably they were being particularly cautious and will all be available for the opener. If the Revs come with their full-fledged offense, they will be an early test for the Quake’s begrudging defense.

More interesting will be San Jose’s overhauled attack against New England’s reorganized defenders. With the acquisition of Convey and forward Cam Weaver, expectations for the Quake’s offense are high. Their success or lack of it will set the tone for the side as the season gets underway.

Defense has been the Rev’s Achilles heel, and there’s no reason to believe they’ve solved that dilemma. The Quake’s have the aptitude to score, but they may lack the teamwork that only playing time can provide. It will be the untested versus the unproven at one end of the pitch and big guns versus the entrenched at the other.

Defender Chris Albright will be unavailable for the opener as he was red-carded in the final game of the postseason on November 6 when he was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

San Jose injury status:
Probable – Bobby Convey (R – quadriceps strain); Ryan Cochrane (L – ankle tendinitis); Ramiro Corrales (flu-like symptoms); Jason Hernandez (L – calf strain); Ryan Johnson (L – Achilles tendinitis); Chris Leitch (R – knee contusion)

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