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Shorthanded MLS teams collapse
by Ridge Mahoney, September 3rd, 2008 7AM

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Needing goals and wins to advance in the Concacaf Champions League, New England and Chivas USA - both shorthanded because of injuries and other causes - came up short. Way short.

New England, trailing only 2-1 from the first leg, took a 4-0 beating by Joe Public FC at Gillette Stadium. Chivas USA hosted Tauro FC at Home Depot Center down 2-0, and lost Jonathan Bornstein to a second caution in a 1-1 tie that eliminated it on aggregate.

Joe Public FC (Trinidad & Tobago) and Tauro FC (Panama) advance to the 16-team group phase that begins play in two weeks. The elimination of New England and Chivas USA leaves Houston and D.C. United as the MLS entrants in group play.

Mitigating circumstances abounded for the MLS failures, as head coaches Steve Nicol and Preki saved a few regulars for crucial league matches looming on the weekend, yet over two legs, two MLS teams -- including the runner-up in the last three MLS Cups and currently No. 2 team in the overall standings -- were outscored, 9-2, and failed to win any of the four matches.

Nicol had proclaimed that "One-nil puts us through" in reference to the away goal that it scored in Port of Spain, which would have decided the tie if the teams finished 2-2 on aggregate. Yet he left defender Michael Parkhurst on the bench, and with Chris Albright sidelined with a concussion and hip flexor strain suffered in league play, he paired Gabriel Badilla and Amaechi Igwe in central defense. With four attackers injured, Nicol deployed two midfielders up top: Bermudan Khano Smith and Brandon Manzonelli, an 18-year-old on the developmental squad.

Guyanan Gregory Richardson riddled the patchwork back line and a subpar Matt Reis, playing his second game since sitting out three because of an adductor strain, to score three of Joe Public's four goals and set up the other one.

The onslaught began in the 17th minute when Jamaican Wolry Wolfe slipped a through ball that Richardson took past Igwe and Badilla to drill inside the far post. The Joe Public striker effectively decided the series just before halftime when he took a throw-in through Badilla's weak challenge and smashed a shot that caught Reis leaning off his line and beat him high to the near post.

Boos and jeers rained down on the Revs at the end of the half. A few of the more perceptive fans departed, sensing more of the same. Right they were.

Three minutes after the second-half kickoff, Richardson evaded his tacklers and cut a ball that another Jamaican, Roen Nelson, re-directed low to Reis right. The keeper got an outstretched hand to it but could only deflect it inside the post. Joe Public rounded off the rout nine minutes from the end when Silan Spann created a chance for Richardson to nail number three.

The Revs play at Columbus Saturday in a matchup of the league's top two teams.

ERRORS DOOM CHIVAS USA. A penalty kick squandered by Sacha Kljestan and two cautions that jettisoned Bornstein marred an otherwise spirited effort that left Chivas USA eliminated, 3-1, on aggregate.

A few curious decisions by Canadian referee Mauricio Navarro didn't help the Chivas USA cause, as he elected not to send off keeper Willington Dominguez when he clipped the heels of Roberto Nurse on a breakaway. Instead, Navarro cautioned Dominguez, who then blocked Kljestan's weak spot kick to keep the game goalless in the 22nd minute.

Atiba Harris hit the crossbar in the 36th minute to ratchet up the frustration a few notches, and a few minutes later Bornstein received a caution for grabbing Luis Escobar three times as he dribbled up the sideline and then kicking him in the ankle as he fell. In the 42nd minute a looping Bornstein cross from the left flank dropped for Justin Braun to head square into the middle, where Nurse pivoted neatly to tuck a low shot just inside the post.

But six minutes after the restart, Bornstein got caught with his arm wrapped around Leonel Parris and when Parris rolled to the ground easily, Navarro didn't hesitate to pull out the yellow card and then the red. Just as had been the case when Esobar burst past him, Bornstein reached and grabbed instead of just running with his man. While unlucky to get a second caution for a relatively insignificant offense, the fact he'd been carrying one already should have been sufficient warning.

Sensing the confusion and desperation in its opponent, Tauro FC pushed forward and in the 63rd minute a through ball sent Luis Moreno clear to twice befuddle Chivas USA defender Jim Curtin and strike a shot that hit the inside of the post. The ball slowly rolled along and over the goal line just before Francisco Mendoza could jab it away.

Down two goals on aggregate plus the away goal, Chivas USA needed three to win the series. It failed, but not for lack of opportunities, as the Tauro players celebrated in lieu of defending.

Waves of Chivas USA attacks, fueled by substitutes Ante Razov, Alecko Eskandarian and Jorge Flores, peppered the Tauro goal, but Dominguez and his defenders fended off every attempt.

Chivas USA starts a three-game road swing Saturday in Toronto.

GAME SUMMARIES:
Sept. 2 in Foxboro, Mass.

New England Revolution 0 Joe Public 4. Goals: Richardson 17, 45, 81, Nelson 48.
New England --
Reis, Tierney, Igwe, Badilla, Heaps, Castro, Joseph (Valentino, 68), Larentowicz (Phelan, 46), Thompson, Smith, Manzonelli (Germanese, 72).
Joe Public -- Figueroa, Springer (Andrews, 85), Thomas, Harvey, Mitchell (Spann, 72), Wolfe, Saunders, Dwarika, Baptiste, Nelson (Gay, 76), Richardson.
Red card: New England -- Heaps 90.
Referee: Steve DePiero (Canada).
Att.: 3,523.

Sept. 2 in Carson, Calif.
Chivas USA 1 Tauro FC 1. Goals: Nurse 42; Moreno 62.
Chivas USA -- Kennedy, Ebert, Burling, Curtin, Bornstein, Harris, Kljestan (Flores, 65), Nagamura, Mendoza, Braun (Eskandarian, 55), Nurse (Razov, 55).
Tauro FC -- Dominguez, Moreno, Parris, Manotas, Palma, Rojas, Vega, Avila (Amor, 46), MacLean (Hay), Aguilar, Escobar.
Red card: Chivas USA -- Bornstein 52.
Referee: Mauricio Navarro (Canada).
Att.: n/a.

 



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