By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- As if picking up their first loss of the season wasn't enough, the New England Revolution were not only defeated 2-0 by Real Salt lake on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, but they also lost two of their key players to straight red cards in the process.
As a result of their second-half ejections for "serious foul plays", both captain Shalrie Joseph and midfielder Pat Phelan will be suspended for next Sunday's match in Houston, per MLS rules.
"It's tough to swallow," said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Saturday night's loss. "We've lost Shalrie and Pat Phelan for next week.
"I don't think anybody went over the top, but certainly, guys were getting frustrated. At least we were frustrated. At least we showed something and showed we have passion, which is always good. But frustrating is the right word for the whole evening."
Both fouls were made after Real Salt Lake had taken a commanding 2-0 lead, thanks to goals from Chris Schuler in the 28th minute and Paulo Araujo Jr in the 47th minute.
Schuler made it 1-0 when he drove to the net, and headed a Collen Warner corner kick past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who was rushing out to make a play on the high ball.
"The first one, I'm calling for, and I've got to get through the guys," said Shuttleworth after the game. "So the first one's definitely on me."
As for the second one, there wasn't much Shuttleworth could do, as Araujo Jr. came busting up the right wing on a breakaway. He received a perfect lead pass from Warner up the right sideline, and Araujo Jr. jumped up past Revs defender Franco Coria and finished the breakaway with a low kick to the short side.
"The second one, I know he's coming in," said Shuttleworth. "It's a tough goal. He can put it either way, so I just tried to stay up as long as I could, but he tucked it away pretty nice."
The Revs went into halftime trailing 1-0, so the score just two minutes into the second half wasn't easy to swallow.
"Obviously it's a back breaker for us," said Shuttleworth on the second goal. "Going in to the half 1-nil, and coming out, we're ready to attack and we want to go at them. Then that happens, and now you're trying to claw back two goals to get back into it. It's tough and it's hard to go from there."
Then, in the final 20 minutes, three red cards were dished out -- two to New England, and one to Salt Lake. Joseph received a straight red card for pointing his index finger in the face of Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman. Joseph was upset that Beckerman had pushed him off with an elbow moments earlier, and because Joseph's finger intentionally touched the face of Beckerman, the officials kicked him out of the game in the 70th minute.
In the 85th minute, Phelan was given a straight red card for sprinting in and sliding hard on a play inside Salt Lake's half of the field. Immediately after, the officials also gave Salt Lake's Will Johnson his second yellow card for his reaction to Phelan's tackle, thus, making it the game's third red card, which Nicol called "pretty incredible."
But red cards aside, Saturday's match was decided before all the chaos.
"There's no hiding behind anything, we weren't good," said Nicol. "The first half, we probably found they're men, more times than we found our own. And if you do that, I don't care who you're playing against, you're going to be in trouble.
"It's just unforgivable, sometimes the way we lost the ball tonight. So as much as we're shell-shocked with the red cards and everything that happened in the last 25, 30 minutes of the game, it doesn't hide the fact that we got what we deserved tonight."
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.