Revs Extend Lead in East

The New England Revolution earned a little breathing room in the heated Eastern Conference standings, toppling the Kansas City Wizards by a score of 2-0 in primetime on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
It was the home team Revs who went on the offensive first. Just 90 seconds in, Steve Ralston drilled a free kick into the wall of Wizards defenders, with the ball squirting loose to Pat Noonan. But Wizards ‘keeper Kevin Hartman was positioned perfectly to make the save and smothered Noonan’s shot with ease.

In the 16th minute, league-leading scorer Eddie Johnson nearly added another goal to his dozen already scored in 2007. Receiving the ball at the top of the box, EJ turned a fired a quick-but-powerful left-footed shot in the direction of Matt Reis, but the strike flew just wide of the net, keeping the game scoreless.

Reis would again be tested five minutes later when Carlos Marinelli laid the ball back to an on-rushing Jack Jewsbury. The midfielder’s first-time strike, on a bullet course for the far post, was parried away at the last second by a diving Reis and pushed out of play.

Just after the half-hour mark, Noonan led another Revolution attack down the right side, lofting an early cross in the direction of Taylor Twellman, only to see keeper Hartman come out to break up the cross. As Khano Smith recovered the ball on the far side of the field, he sent a quick pass back to Twellman, who controlled the pass and beat Hartman, but was judged to have been offsides, nullifying the goal.

As the second half got underway, the trio of Smith, Twellman and Noonan would unite again, this time with better results. Khano’s cross from the left was headed into space by the airborne Twellman and then hit home by Noonan in a quick 1-2-3 combination that gave New England all they would need in this one.

In stoppage time, the Revolution added a clincher when Steve Ralston found Adam Cristman in the box, with the rookie beating Hartman for his fourth goal of the season, doubling New England’s advantage. It was Ralston’s league-leading 9th assist on the year and all-time league-best 116th assist in his career.

With the victory, the New England Revolution stretch their lead to four points in the crowded East over second-place Kansas City, with the top five teams in the conference separated by just 9 points.

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