The Revolution captured their second straight victory Saturday night with a 1-0 win over Kansas City at Gillette Stadium, effectively knocking the Wizards out of the playoffs.
Kansas City came into the game needing victories in its final two games combined with two losses by the Colorado Rapids to earn the eighth and final playoff spot. The Revolution were eliminated from the playoffs with six games remaining in the season but have won two games in a row. The team closes out the season Thursday night at Red Bulls Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Shalrie Joseph’s 31st-minute goal Saturday stood as the margin of victory. Joseph, who scored for the second straight week, tallied his fourth of the season on an assist by Chris Tierney, who was playing right defense. The goal was aided by an egregious error in judgment by Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who ranged well beyond his 18-yard penalty area and could no longer use his hands. Beaten to the ball by Joseph, Joseph headed it past Nielsen and ran onto it before gently guiding it into the open goalmouth for the only score of the game.
Revolution defender Seth Sinovic appeared to catch a break in the 10th minute when the Wizards’ forward Kei Kamara sprinted behind him and appeared ready to pull the trigger on a shot from close distance to the left of goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Sinovic, in a last-ditched attempt, reached out and grabbed Kamara halting his stride and taking him down.
A certain penalty, no doubt? Apparently not. Referee Jair Marrufo didn’t see it that way, perhaps denying the visitors a penalty shot.
Shuttleworth picked up his third professional victory against two losses and managed his first Major League Soccer shutout. Coach Steve Nicol was full of praise for his young goalkeeper, who was playing in place of the injured Matt Reis, who underwent ankle surgery Wednesday.
“He was solid as a rock,’’ Nicol said of Shuttleworth. “His possession was good. Anytime they did get a shot off, it went straight into his hands. He had good positional play. He was solid as a rock."
The Revolution had their second-highest attendance of the season Saturday night at 18,298 and rewarded their fans with a solid outing, the type of game that was all-too-infrequent this season.
“We’ve talked about making bad decisions that have cost us during the season,’’ said Nicol. “Tonight, we made good decisions as far as being in good positions to deal with balls in the box.’’
The coach added that having been out of playoff contention for several weeks made it easier for the team to perform.
“Not that the pressure’s off, because we always put pressure on ourselves to work hard and to do well,’’ he said, “but the fact that there’s no real pressure on us to win games makes it easier to play.’’
The Wizards squandered several good opportunities in the second half. Kamara failed to pull the trigger in the 82nd minute on a point-blank shot. He also hit the post in the 69th minute to the Shuttleworth’s right side.
Nicol seemed to be reasonably impressed by the development of 21-year-old midfielder Sainey Nyassi but believes the player, who has become a full member of the Gambian national team, still has improvements to make that could take him to a higher professional level.
“That final ball has to be better,’’ said Nicol. "Sainey has a lot of attributes. But he needs to be better with his final balls, and if he can do that, he’ll step up another level."