Revolution blanks Atlante in SuperLiga semifinal
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Shalrie Joseph headed in an indirect kick by Steve Ralston in the 30th minute, leading the New England Revolution to a 1-0 victory over Atlante F.C. in the semifinals of the SuperLiga series Wednesday.
The Revolution will meet the Houston Dynamo for the SuperLiga championship Tuesday in Foxborough. Houston, which beat New England for the 2007 MLS championship, beat Pachuca 2-0 in the other semifinal match Tuesday.
New England and Atlante played a friendly match March 6 in Playa Del Carmen. But in the not-so-friendly SuperLiga semifinal, Atlante was issued eight yellow cards and two red cards -- to Luis Gabriel Rey in the 84th minute and Alan Zamora in stoppage time.
A brief scuffle broke out between members of both teams and staff from the Mexican team at the end of the match, resulting in three more player ejections.
"They have guys on their team, their staff hitting people from behind," said New England goalkeeper Matt Reis. "You see it all the time, they're always swearing and yelling at the ref. All they wanted to do was come on and fight us."
Referee Carlos Batres issued red cards to Atlante's Javier Munoz Mustafa and Luis Venegas, along with New England's Jay Heaps.
All told, there were six player ejections, five to Atlante.
"They lost their discipline," New England coach Steve Nicol said of Atlante. "The ref can only give yellow and red cards."
Joseph, a New England midfielder, scored after he burst to an open spot in the penalty box area, outmuscled an Atlante defender for space and headed the ball over goalkeeper Federico Vilar and off the crossbar into the net.
New England, with the most wins (10) and points (33) in MLS, reached the semifinal round of the SuperLiga by posting a 2-0-1 record in Group B. Atlante, the Mexican fall season champion, reached the semifinal by compiling a 2-1 record in Group A.
Atlante had only one true scoring chance, a drive by Rey in the 27th minute that was handled by Reis with a chest-high save.
New England allowed just one goal in its three previous SuperLiga matches, shutting out Mexican foes Santos Laguna and Pachuca. And by blanking Atlante, the Revolution were headed to the final.