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Drilling down on: at Kansas City 0, New England 0

Columbus Crew v New England Revolution

FOXBORO, MA - JUNE 16: Matt Reis #1 of the New England Revolution makes a save on a shot by the Columbus Crew in the second half during a game at Gillette Stadium on June 16, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: With most teams Saturday playing a second game over four nights, lots of games lacked a little pop. Count this one among them. So, in a match without much to talk about other than a lot of cramping and a controversial goal line sequence, one amazing stop from Matt Reis is enough to earn the Revolution goalkeeper a Man of the Match. His stop on Jacob Peterson’s first-half header was fabulous stuff. Besides, he finished the match with a gash on his forehead, the result of a Kei Kamara elbow; that’s got to count for something, too.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Jacob Peterson started as Kansas City made its initial midfield adjustment after Roger Espinoza’s departure for the London Olympics.
  • New England’s look was a little different, too, as Benny Feilhaber played further back in midfield, alongside Shalrie Joseph in a 4-2-3-1.
  • Bobby Convey got back into the starting lineup for SKC; like most other teams, Sporting KC played three nights ago. Lined up left in SKC’s 4-3-3, he didn’t have much to say about the match.
  • The visitors were the aggressors early, as Joseph and Feilhaber were better through the middle. The relatively constant pressure paid off in the 15th minute when …
  • Ryan Guy connected cleanly with a Lee Nguyen corner kick, one driven with sure authority. Guy’s powerful header went right at SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who was able to beat it away. Or was he? If that ball wasn’t all the in the goal, it was frightfully close.
  • If I ranked MLS referees, Jason Anno would probably be bottom. He allowed way too much in the first half; too many tactical fouls, too many rough fouls, too many semi-rough fouls that came and went without so much as a word directed to the offender. Things could have really gotten out of hand, except that …
  • After the break, Anno called a different game, issuing three yellow cards in the second half’s first 20 minutes. Some players and fans may not have understood (the TV commentators from New England, either), but sometimes a referee can’t afford to “let ‘em play.” Yes, players struggle with the consistency, but when the game gets rough it’s better to err toward player safety and toward keeping control of a match.
  • After a strong first half, Joseph looked plum out of gas. In and out of the lineup this year, he doesn’t appear to be match-fit.
  • With Joseph losing influence, with Nguyen and Feilhaber taking their lumps and slowing down as a result, Graham Zusi adjusted his positioning. Zusi moved further ahead, confident that Paolo Nagamura could hold the midfield as a solo screener. So New England moved its lines further back and Kansas City was in firm control after the break.
  • Zusi in July just isn’t what he was in April and May, when SKC was clobbering teams in the midfield. That’s helps explain a bunch of possession and half-chances, but not many clear-cup opportunities for the home team.