If rookie forward Zack Schilawski continues his current form when the regular season kicks off next weekend, he’ll quickly become a fan-favorite.
Schilawski scored his team-leading third goal of the preseason – and his third in as many games – to provide the Revolution’s only goal in a 1-1 draw with Duke University on Wednesday morning at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Duke forward Nick Sih equalized for the Blue Devils in the 14th minute, less than 60 seconds after Schilawski had given the Revs the lead in the 13th minute.
While the Revs trotted out the same forwards and midfielders which started against the Charlotte Eagles last weekend, the backline took on a different look. With Kevin Alston (hamstring), Darrius Barnes (quad) and Gabriel Badilla (calf) all unavailable because of injury and Cory Gibbs rested after a 90-minute performance against the Eagles, midfielder Pat Phelan – who played as a defender in college – slotted into central defense alongside Emmanuel Osei, while Seth Sinovic played on the left side and the left-footed Chris Tierney switched to the right. Bobby Shuttleworth played the full 90 minutes in goal.
The Revs started brightly and had a glorious chance to open the scoring in just the third minute. From deep in the midfield, Shalrie Joseph’s cutting through ball sent Sainey Nyassi clear into the right side of the box, but his low shot was handled easily by the Duke goalkeeper.
It was just 10 minutes later that the Revolution broke the deadlock, as Schilawski beat the offside trap and finished low inside the right post. Kheli Dube played the critical through ball as the Duke backline stepped up, leaving Schilawski with only the goalkeeper to beat as he broke into the left side of the box.
The Blue Devils equalized just one minute later, however, capitalizing on a corner kick. Cole Grossman whipped in the set piece from the left corner, and Sih found space at the near post to bounce in a clever header.
Emmanuel Osei appeared to restore the Revolution’s lead in the 23rd minute with a spectacular bicycle kick after a scramble in the box, but the goal was ruled out for dangerous play.
The play settled down after the early flurry – with both teams pressing but no one seriously threatening – and the teams went into halftime locked at 1-1.
With the regular season now just days away and time running out to evaluate the squad, the Revs made six changes at the half. While Nico Colaluca officially replaced Schilawski, he took over for Marko Perovic on the left wing and Perovic moved up into a withdrawn forward position, just behind Kenny Mansally.
Colaluca was active from the start and almost scored less than one minute into the second half. After cutting inside from the left wing, he rifled a low shot just wide of the left post from 18 yards out.
Duke’s best chance of the second half arrived in the 72nd minute, when a quick throw-in down the right wing opened up space. A Blue Devils midfielder got to the end line and slipped in a low cross, but his teammate’s shot went inches wide of the right post.
The dangerous Colaluca continued to threaten in the 76th minute, floating a cross into the path of former Duke midfielder Mike Videira. The ex-Blue Devil got his head on the cross, but the Duke goalkeeper was well-positioned to make the save.
Colaluca had two more chances late in the match – an 86th-minute free kick which was blocked by the wall and a 90th-minute blast which was saved comfortably – but the Revs were not able to find a game-winner.
Missing for the Revolution were long-term injury victims Taylor Twellman (concussion) and Matt Reis (shoulder/knee surgery), while Alston, Badilla, Barnes, Mauricio Castro (ankle) and Edgaras Jankauskas (calf) were also unavailable. Twellman – who spent the first week with the team in North Carolina – has returned to Massachusetts for a previously-scheduled doctor’s appointment.
The Revs will close out their 12-day trip to North Carolina on Saturday, March 20, when they’ll visit the Carolina RailHawks (NASL) at WakeMed Soccer Park. The match – which will be the Revolution’s last preseason test before the regular-season opener the following weekend – is set to kick off at 7 p.m. New England is scheduled to open the 2010 MLS season on Saturday, March 27, against the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.
NE – Zack Schilawski (Kheli Dube) 13
DUKE – Nick Sih (Cole Grossman) 14
New England Revolution (4-4-2): Bobby Shuttleworth (GK), Seth Sinovic (Khano Smith 46), Pat Phelan, Emmanuel Osei, Chris Tierney, Marko Perovic (Andres Raad 65), Joseph Niouky (Mike Videira 46), Shalrie Joseph © (Gareth Williams 46), Sainey Nyassi (Zak Boggs 46), Kheli Dube (Kenny Mansally 46), Zack Schilawski (Nico Colaluca 46)
Unused substitutes: Preston Burpo (GK), Tim Murray (GK), Cory Gibbs