The New England Revolution climbed to within two points of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Chivas USA on MLS Primetime Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
Steve Ralston scored a goal and added two assists to pace the Revolution upon his return from injury. Taylor Twellman added a goal and an assist and Jeff Larentowicz also scored as the Revolution returned to their winning ways by reversing the scoreline they saw twice a week ago.
The result felt harsh for Chivas, who held the Revs scoreless and nearly went ahead before Twellman scored eight minutes after the break. Three subsequent goals, including two in stoppage time, flattered the Revs but displayed the advantage the home side held for most of the game.
Ralston returned to the lineup after a three-match absence due to back spasms. He joined Taylor Twellman up top with Shalrie Joseph tucked in behind. Nicol opted to return to a 3-5-2 formation with Ralston's return. The extra berth in midfield brought Pat Phelan into the team alongside Jeff Larentowicz in central midfield.
Chivas USA's injury concerns continued with Maykel Galindo, Jesse Marsch and Raphael Wicky still out with injury. Claudio Suarez was fit enough to make the bench. The continued concerns meant Francisco Mendoza operated in the center of midfield alongside Paulo Nagamura. Daniel Paladini earned another start after his first career goal last weekend.
Mendoza presented Twellman with a gilt-edged chance after just four minutes. Looking to play a square pass to Nagamura along the top of his own penalty area, Mendoza instead passed directly to Twellman. The Revs striker bore in on goal but only managed to tuck his effort around the far post when most expected him to slot home past Dan Kennedy, making just his second career start after an injury to Zach Thornton last week.
Twellman did better to turn a Ralston free kick towards goal. Ralston's scoop pass caught the Chivas defense flatfooted to find an unmarked Twellman. The ball wasn't easy for Twellman to deal with and he managed to direct it towards goal only for Kennedy to deny him with a dive to his right.
The home side was on top during the early stages, looking renewed and comfortable in possession. But Chivas gradually came into the game and grabbed more of the ball when possible. Atiba Harris lashed well over after doing all the hard work to outmuscle Michael Parkhurst.
Chances still fell primarily to the home side. Ralston played through an advantage call to skip down to the end line and cut inside. Ralston's shot looked destined for the far post, but Kennedy came out to cut down the angle and push the effort away from danger.
When Chivas did manage to go forward, Razov was on the end of the buildup. A long-distance drive forced Matt Reis to push the ball around the post before Razov flailed at a dangerous cross from Jorge Flores.
Chivas spurned two glorious chances to go ahead just after the halftime interval. Jim Curtin crept behind the defense yet couldn't connect with a free kick while Reis fumbled the ball out over the end line. Harris sent a header towards the far post from the resulting corner kick. Michael Parkhurst stayed on his post and hacked the ball clear.
Just as Chivas looked to grab control of the match, the Revs struck. Referee Jair Marrufo could have whistled play dead at midfield after Shalrie Joseph was fouled at midfield. Instead, play continued and the Revs exploited that advantage. Twellman and Ralston connected with Ralston sending a low cross across the face. Twellman slipped through Nagamura and Carey Talley to thump home at the near post.
The Revs pressed forward in search of a second. Curtin nearly facilitated the process by deflecting a timid Khano Smith shot towards goal and forcing Kennedy into an acrobatic save in the process. Kennedy was then forced into another save at the near post by Twellman.
Larentowicz scored the killer second with six minutes to play. Smith's cross was headed out and collected by substitute Wells Thompson. Thompson nodded on to Ralston, who laid a ball back for Larentowicz to fire home from 22 yards.
Smith got the goal his running deserved as the match entered stoppage time by muscling Bobby Burling off the ball and slotting home inside the far post as the match entered stoppage time.
Ralston capped the night by ringing his effort off the far post to finish off a move spurred on by a crossfield pass by Twellman to ensure the Revs would break their three-match winless streak.