A determined Joe Public FC pulled off a deserved 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution, 2-1, on Tuesday night in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round series at Marvin Lee Stadium.
Goals by Gregory Richardson and substitute Jamal Gay in similar fashion put the hosts 2-0 up before Honduran international Mauricio Castro converted a late penalty kick for the Revs, giving them a crucial goal in the two-game series that will be decided on aggregate score with the return scheduled for Gillette Stadium on September 2.
Castro's goal is even more critical in that it was scored away from home, giving New England a possible edge in the first tiebreaker should the Revs and Eastern Lions finish even on aggregate after the second leg on Sept. 2 at Gillette Stadium. If the two teams are tied on aggregate goals after the second match, the first tiebreaker is away goals.
Just as they did in Toronto three nights prior, the Revs began the match in a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Steve Ralston playing as a withdrawn forward behind lone striker Taylor Twellman.
Joe Public -- which out-shot the Revs, 11-2, in the first half -- had a great chance to open the scoring in the ninth minute when forwards Gregory Richardson and Reon Nelson linked up inside the box, but Nelson didn't connect on his shot and the effort rolled harmlessly wide, reported MLSnet.com.
New England,playing without Bermuda's Khano Smith because of international duty was forced to shuffle its formation in the 25th minute, as back spasms forced Ralston out of the game, to be replaced by Wells Thompson. Castro shifted into Ralston's withdrawn forward position, while Thompson slotted into left midfield.
The Revolution's best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute, when Twellman was taken down 20 yards from goal to set up a free kick in the center of the field. Jeff Larentowicz, filling in as a center back, stepped up to strike the free kick, but his driven effort was parried over the bar by Joe Public goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa.
Nelson almost put the host Lions into the lead right before halftime when he ran on to Kerry Baptiste's long ball behind the Revs' defense, but again his shot went wide.
The home side finally did take advantage of its possession and go ahead, 1-0, in the 51st minute. Baptiste broke free down the right wing and played a ball across the face of goal to Richardson, who tapped into the empty net from six yards out to finish the move.
Joe Public forward Gay, a recent international debutant for T&T, replaced Nelson in the 69th minute, and then proceeded to score with his first touch of the game just one minute later to put the Eastern Lions ahead, 2-0. Once again, Baptiste burst down the right wing before playing a teasing cross to the six-yard box, where Gay one-timed a shot past Revs goalkeeper Doug Warren.
Six minutes later, New England cut the deficit in half, as Castro converted a penalty kick after Shalrie Joseph was taken down in the box. The goal was Castro's first for the Revolution since joining the team prior to the start of this season and handed the Revs a huge boost heading into the final match of the series.
New England will host the second leg of the preliminary series at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 2, with the winner of the series advancing to the tournament's group stage. The match will once again be televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel at 8 p.m. ET. (August 26,2008)
Joe Public/New England
Shots – 15/5
Shots on Goal – 3/6
Saves – 4/1
Corners – 3/3
New England Revolution Doug Warren , Chris Tierney, Jay Heaps, Jeff Larentowicz, Michael Parkhurst, Mauricio Castro (Joe Germanese, 80th), Shalrie Joseph, Pat Phelan, Sainey Nyassi (Amaechi Igwe, 65th), Steve Ralston (Wells Thompson, 25th), Taylor Twellman
Subs Not Used: Brad Knighton , Matt Reis , Rob Valentino
Joe Public FC : Alejandro Figueroa , Jason Springer, Keyeno Thomas, Christopher Harvey, Carlyle Mitchell, Dale Saunders,Wolry Wolfe (Kerry Noray, 81), Arnold Dwarika (Lyndon Andrews 83), Kerry Baptiste, Reon Nelson (Jamal Gay, 69th), Gregory Richardson
Subs Not Used: Andre Foster, Peterson Desrivieres, Gary Glasgow, Elusma Pierre