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March 25, 2007 – Revolution 3:1 Olimpia, Tad Gormley Stadium, New Orleans

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New Orleans was still recovering, less than two years post-Hurricane Katrina, and this preseason game between the Revolution and CD Olimpia turned out to be unique among the sporting events related to the city’s rebuilding. Adam Cristman scored two goals, Andy Dorman one, for the Revolution (Argentinian Jose Pacini converted for Olimpia) before a predominantly Honduran 8,947 crowd that included Mayor Ray Nagin. Brad Knighton’s performance in goal also helped establish his status as a high-level backup.

The Revolution’s visit involved several New England connections. The trip was set up by New Orleans Shellshockers coach Kenny Farrell, a former Salem State star. The Revolution had conducted preseason training in New Orleans in 2004, and the venture had concluded with Carlos Llamosa’s season-ending knee injury on the turf at Tulane University in a game that included a 10th-minute ejection of Jose Cancela. After that experience, the Revolution were inclined to avoid New Orleans, but Farrell persuaded Steve Nicol to return, partly because Farrell pitched him on involving the Revolution in the city’s rehabilitation. Nicol was also convinced by the refurbishing of the soccer field at Tad Gormley Stadium, via a donation from the New Orleans’ Saints’ Reggie Bush (in ’04, most of the fields the Revolution trained on were poor quality).

And the Revolution became immersed in things, taking an afternoon to rehab houses in Chalmette via the St. Bernard Project, a non-profit managed by Zach Rosenburg (Belmont, Mass.) and his wife, Liz McCartney, a Boston College graduate. Nicol and assistant coaches Paul Mariner and Gwynne Williams grabbed paint brushes, and nearly every Revolution player, administrator and member of the broadcast team pitched in. Cristman and goalkeeper Matt Reis dry-walled an entire house in a matter of a couple hours. Mayor Nagin told me other sports teams had participated in projects related to the disaster, but the Revolution seemed to be the first professional athletes to be involved in actually pounding nails, etc. The example set by the Revolution inspired the St. Bernard Project to enlist other athletes in recovery work elsewhere. (The photos of the houses the team worked on were taken last year. In 2007, the pictured homes were uninhabitable). The Revolution also participated in clinics, making a strong connection with at least one youngster – Patrick Mullins, who would go on to play for the team in 2014 and is now starring with D.C. United.

The Revolution compiled a 6-0-0 preseason record on the way to winning the U.S. Open Cup (4-0-0 campaign) and a third successive run to the MLS Cup final. The Revolution had a 26-9-9 record in all competitions and exhibitions in 2007 but, of course, faltered in the final.

TODAY IN NEW ENGLAND SOCCER HISTORY

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