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SuperLiga 2010 final: How we got here By Jeff Lemieux, Staff Writer & Online Host

As they prepare for Wednesday night’s SuperLiga 2010 final against Monarcas Morelia, we take a look at the Revs’ journey to the title match

Kenny Mansally celebrates the successful penalty kick which sent the Revs to the SuperLiga 2010 final
Kenny Mansally celebrates the successful penalty kick which sent the Revs to the SuperLiga 2010 final

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – SuperLiga 2010 has already been a tournament of firsts for the New England Revolution.

  • By winning all three of their group games over Pumas UNAM, the Chicago Fire and Monarcas Morelia, the Revs became the first team in the competition’s four-year history to claim maximum points (9) from the group stage. The previous high of seven points in the group stage had been achieved three times, including twice by the Revolution in 2008 and 2009.
  • By shutting out all three of their opponents in Group B, the Revolution became the first team to finish the group stage without conceding a goal.
  • By reaching the SuperLiga 2010 final with a penalty shootout victory over Puebla FC, the Revs became the competition’s first-ever two-time finalist. The Revolution won the tournament in 2008 with a penalty shootout victory over the Houston Dynamo.

They’ll look to continue that trend on Wednesday night when they host the SuperLiga 2010 final against Morelia, as a victory would make the Revolution SuperLiga’s first-ever two-time champion.

But before we preview the title match, let’s take a look back at the Revolution’s stellar run through the group stage and the club’s dramatic semifinal victory …

Group Stage vs. Pumas UNAM (Mexican Primera División)
Wednesday, July 14 – Gillette Stadium |
Watch highlights >>

The Revs entered the tournament on a high note, having defeated the league-leading LA Galaxy in a regular-season match just four days prior to the start of the group stage. They continued to build momentum against Mexican club Pumas UNAM, as rookie forward Zack Schilawski scored the game’s only goal in the 18th minute and second-year goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves to guide the Revolution to a 1-0 win.

Scoring chances were at a premium throughout the first half, so it was a bit of surprise when Schilawski broke the deadlock midway through the opening stanza. Marko Perovic created the goal with an in-swinging corner kick and Schilawski wriggled free his marker at the back post before acrobatically rising to poke the ball just inside the post.

The action intensified in the second half as Pumas pushed for an equalizer and the visitors so nearly found it when Israel Castro’s deflected shot struck the underside of the crossbar in the 89th minute, but the shot bounced to safety and the Revs held on for a precious 1-0 win to begin play in Group B.

Group Stage vs. Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer)
Saturday, July 17 – Toyota Park | Watch highlights >>

Goalkeeper Matt Reis returned to his starting role after sitting out the group opener and the Revolution defense didn’t miss a beat, earning its third straight shutout in all competitions to register another 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire. The victory – combined with a 2-2 draw between Morelia and Pumas in the second half of the evening’s doubleheader – guaranteed the Revs a spot in the SuperLiga semifinals for the third straight year.

Perovic score what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 76th minute, capitalizing when second-half substitute Kheli Dube forced a turnover in the attacking third. Perovic pounced on the loose ball and drilled a left-footed shot past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, putting it low inside the right post.

Desperate for a result to keep its hopes of a semifinal berth alive, the Fire pushed for an equalizer but never seriously threatened late in the match and the Revs held on for their first win in Chicago since 2006.

Group Stage vs. Monarcas Morelia (Mexican Primera División)
Tuesday, July 20 – Gillette Stadium | Watch highlights >>

Needing only a draw against Morelia to clinch the top spot in Group B, the Revolution went one better and claimed a third consecutive 1-0 win on the strength of Perovic’s second goal of the tournament.

With a spot in the semifinals already secured, head coach Steve Nicol opted for a cautious approach in keeping Shalrie Joseph and Sainey Nyassi out of the lineup, as both would’ve been suspended for the semifinal had they received a yellow card. The Revs were also without regular starters Kevin Alston (hamstring strain) and Cory Gibbs (quad strain) because of minor injuries, so it was a partially makeshift lineup which took the field against Morelia.

It didn’t matter in the end, however, as Perovic – who also scored the game-winning goal in the Revs’ league victory over the Galaxy prior to SuperLiga – continued his torrid streak with the game’s only goal in the 62nd minute. It was once again Dube’s hard work which created the opportunity, as the industrious forward occupied three Morelia defenders as the ball bounced high in the box. A rushed clearing header fell directly into the path of Perovic in the left side of the box and the Serb stepped into a left-footed shot to lash home at the near post.

The victory set the Revolution up for a semifinal date with yet another Mexican side, Puebla FC. Meanwhile, Chicago’s victory over Pumas in the other Group B finale also clinched a semifinal spot for Morelia, leaving open the possibility of a rematch in the final …

Semifinal vs. Puebla FC (Mexican Primera División)
Wednesday, Aug. 4 – Gillette Stadium | Watch highlights >>

After a disappointing loss to the Chicago Fire in a SuperLiga 2009 semifinal at Gillette Stadium, the Revs were out to redeem themselves and claim a spot in the tournament’s title game for the second time in three years. They did just that with a pulsating victory over Puebla, advancing thanks to a 5-3 win in penalty kicks after 90 minutes of regulation finished tied at 1-1.

Kenny Mansally was the goal-scoring hero for the Revolution, notching the home side’s only goal in normal time before converting the penalty kick which sent to the Revs to the SuperLiga 2010 title match. Mansally’s heroic moment was made possible by Reis, who stopped Puebla forward Edgar Lugo’s spot kick to provide the difference.

The score went from 0-0 to 1-1 in a matter of minutes early in the second half. Mansally gave the Revs a 56th-minute lead with a fantastic curling effort from 18 yards out, but Andres Olivera leveled the score just two minutes later by beating Reis to the near post with a low drive from the left side of the box.

The first seven shooters in penalty kicks converted their attempts, giving the Revs a 4-3 lead. Reis then handed the Revolution an advantage when he palmed away Lugo’s attempt to slot the ball down the middle, and Mansally stepped up to blast his effort into the roof of the net and send the Revs to the final.

Final vs. Monarcas Morelia (Mexican Primera División)
Wednesday, Sept. 1 – Gillette Stadium

Morelia earned a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the other semifinal to set up an MLS-Mexico showdown in the SuperLiga 2010 final, not to mention a rematch of the hotly-contested group game in mid-July. This will be the third time in SuperLiga’s four-year history that the final has pitted an MLS team against a Mexican team, and the Mexican sides have claimed the title on both previous occasions.

Will the Revs become the first MLS team to take down a Mexican team in the final? Will they become the first team to lift the SuperLiga trophy twice? We’re only two days away from finding out …