This was the best game of the tournament from a pure technical standpoint. No it did not feature the goals or open play of other matches but two teams with so much quality. Don’t be surprised if these teams meet in the final where Pachuca like last year having lost to the Galaxy in group play have revenge on their mind.
Shalrie Joseph proved today that the best in MLS can play with the best in Mexico and control a match. He placed his personal stamp on the game early and was the driving force as he more often than not is for New England’s success.
The match continues to be played largely in the midfield but Pachuca looks more dangerous and confident. The action continues to flow and Shalrie Joseph has become less effective going forward as Pachuca is focused on preventing him from turning their bad giveaways into counter attacking opportunities. Kheli Dube hits a great strike around minute 80 on a counter that Miguel Calero makes a great save on.
Following a Pachuca corner Pat Phelan is bumped by Gabriel Caballero and is attended to for eight minutes. The injury looked serious but thankfully Phelan seemed to be moving his fingers and talking to the paramedics. Upon the restart Manzur gets called for a hand ball and Khano Smith with his stronger foot calmly slots home the pk and New England wins 1-0.
New England and Pachuca. Perhaps the game of the tournament thus far when you consider the tactical setup of these clubs as well as Pachuca’s success traditionally against teams from MLS while the Revs are in form. Early moments of the match are filled with chances for both teams, with Jay Heaps being caught offsides as well as a good save from Matt Reis. As the match settles down the midfield class of Shalrie Jospeh, the best MLS has to offer, begins to take control of the match.
As the first half wears on Shalrie Jospeh’s dominance continues. MLS doesn’t have the money, the depth or the overall quality of the Mexican League but in Shalrie Joseph, MLS has a player whose unique abilities would allow him to cope at any level anywhere in the world. Parkhurst, Heaps and Igwe have done a credible job in this half keeping a fairly high line for the Revs but dropping back in place when Pachuca counter attacks.
After Khano Smith misses just wide with his weaker foot and Matt Reis makes a nice save, Telefutura’s crew openly speculates as to whether or not Reis should be selected by Bob Bradley for the national team. The consensus in the booth is “yes.” No mention on whether that is a shot at Brad Guzan or simply a compliment towards Reis. Damian Alverez comes oh so close on the shot that goes just wide and the half with New England having nothing to show for their dominance and Pachuca beginning to show some signs of life. This is going to be quite a second half!