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CONCACAF Champions Cup

Revolution draws 0-0 with Alajuelense in quarterfinal series.

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Wednesday, February 22, 2006) -- Playing a "home" game here at the National Sports Centre, the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer had plenty of chances, but could do no better than a 0-0 draw with LD Alajuelense of Costa Rica tonight in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal series.

The second leg will be played next Wednesday at Alajuelense in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Despite several good scoring chances, the Revolution could not find net against Alajuelense, the Central American (UNCAF Cup) champion, holder of 24 Costa Rica league titles and Champions Cup winner in 1986 and 2004.

The Revolution used a 4-4-2 formation instead of the 3-5-2 system it utilized en route to an MLS Cup final loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in November, but was hampered by the absence of usual starters, defender Michael Parkhurst, and midfielders Steve Ralston and Marshall Leonard to injuries.

The Galaxy opens in the Champions Cup Thursday night against Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Despite creating some good attacking action, New England had difficulty establishing a passing rhythm in the first half, playing on the fast Bermuda playing surface. New England came close to breaking through after intermission, but now is in the unenviable position of having to win in Costa Rica to advance.

Alajuelense had the first good chance in the 14th minute when veteran Costa Rica national-teamer Rolando Fonseca worked a quick combination down the right flank with strike partner Bryan Ruiz. Fonseca slipped behind the Revs defense and drove a shot across the face of goal, but wide of the far post.

Four minutes later, Revolution central defender Daniel Hernandez was issued the first yellow card of the game, tugging Fonseca's jersey to prevent him from getting behind the New England back line.

The Revs had perhaps the best chance of the match in the 24th minute on a move triggered by Pat Noonan. Playing on the right side of midfield, Noonan carried down the right side of the box and behind right back Carlos Castro before sending a low cross in front of the goal. Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey made a stab at the ball, but failed to connect.

With LDA goalkeeper Wardy Alfaro out of position, Revs left midfielder Tony Lochhead faced an open net, but his first touch failed him and he shot into the outside of the net.

The Revs needed a minute of the second half to create their first opportunity. Dempsey left a back-heel for Lochhead, who crossed to forward Taylor Twellman at the top of the penalty area. Twellman nailed his first-time volley, but watched it sail over the crossbar.

In the 50th minute, Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman sent a free kick from 45 yards to defender Jay Heaps, who headed it to Noonan for a left-footed volley that missed high.

Seven minutes later, Revs defender James Riley sent Noonan down the right wing into open space. He crossed to Twellman, six yards from the center of the goal. Twellman's powerful header went directly to Alfaro.

New England continued to attack in the 63rd minute when Dempsey dropped a back-heel for Noonan who played a heel flick to Twellman. The St. Louis native ran onto the ball and fired a shot that grazed the outside of the far right post.

In the 79th minute, the Revs were dealt a serious blow when Noonan limped off with an apparent hamstring injury. Noonan was due to depart for Germany this weekend with the U.S. men for next Wednesday's game against Poland at Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Noonan will be evaluated tomorrow by the New England medical staff.

LD Alajuelense replaced Fonseca in the 73rd minute and Ruiz in the 85th for extra defenders in a successful effort to stifle the Revolution attack in the closing minutes.

The CONCACAF Champions' Cup determines the club championship for the region that includes North Americam Central America and the Caribbean and has been competed since 1962. The winner advances to the FIFA Club World Championship in Japan.

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