Three goals inside the first 30 minutes of the game forced the New England Revolution to swallow their worst season opening result in club history as they were downed 4-0 by the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.
The scoring started in the 2nd minute when club captain Jose Goncalves made a rare misstep to afford Will Bruin his first goal of 2014. The Houston striker would double the lead in the 13th minute after Corey Ashe intercepted a Scott Caldwell pass and put Bruin in on goal. Bruin would play provider ten minutes later by setting up Boniek Garcia to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
“We gave away three goals before 30 minutes, it just was not good enough on all fronts,” head coach Jay Heaps told Revolutionsoccer.net. “Tonight, we were ready to go, had a great gameplan and were well-prepared but the start was just flat.”
The Revs would have a flurry of chances to get a goal of their own starting in the 39th minute. The first opportunity came when Darrius Barnes, who entered in the 20th minute for an injured Kevin Alston, used his long throw-in to create chaos in the box. Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe made swipes at the ball, but Kofi Sarkodie was able to push it safely out of bounds.
The ensuing corner kick was taken by Chris Tierney and almost provided a goal when AJ Soares rose above to win the ball. The defender was unlucky, however, as his header hit the post. Goncalves picked up the rebound, but his shot was blocked.
“I wanted it to go in,” Soares said of his header. “I think had the header gone in, we get a little more life to us. That being said, they beat us tonight no matter what.”
The Revs came out of the locker room with a single change as Jerry Bengtson replaced Patrick Mullins. The Honduran, who scored midweek in an international friendly with Venezuela, nearly got a goal in the 68th minute when he was offered a prime opportunity by Fagundez. Bengtson spoiled the chance, however, as he launched his shot over the net from approximately two yards out.
Revolution fans got a happy sight in the 74th minute when Saer Sene, who spent the offseason recovering from leg and ankle injuries, replaced Daigo Kobayashi. The Frenchman played the ball to Fagundez in the 82nd minute, which allowed the 19-year-old to hit a curler from outside the box that rattled the woodwork.
Bobby Shuttleworth was able to keep the score line from worsening by making four superb stops. A stoppage time addition was out of his control, however, as Rico Clark’s long-range blast was deflected by Omar Cummings to deceive Shuttleworth.
The game would end 4-0, which is the worst result in the Heaps’ era. The club will now regroup and prepare for next Saturday’s clash with the Philadelphia Union.
“We know who are as a team, we know our style of play and we’re going to stick to that,” Soares commented. “We’re not going to change, it’s not like we need any big overhauls or anything. Just get back to the way we play and commit to the game, everybody play both sides of the ball as hard as we can.”
Three Thoughts on the Game
1. The Revs deserved to lose, but they also deserved a goal. The poor defensive display by the Revs fully justified the four allowed goals, but the attack was dynamic enough to earn a tally. Whether it was Soares’ header, Rowe or Bengtson’s close-range efforts or Fagundez’s stunning curler, something should have gone into the back of the net. The slow start doomed the Revs, but the team did well to increase their shots, possession and passing percentage as the game went on. While the four is fully deserved, the zero doesn’t tell the story of the Revolution’s attack.
2. The slow start shows the importance of preseason. Revolution fans were ecstatic to see Jose Goncalves and Chris Tierney in the starting eleven. The two defenders were mainstays in last year’s record-breaking backline, but hadn’t gotten many minutes during preseason because of various injuries. Goncalves and Tierney looked unsettled, particularly in the opening minutes, as they were missing tackle and losing their marks. Hopefully a week of practice will allow both players to shake off the rust, which should help the defense return to its stingy ways.
3. Changes could be coming, but it’s hard to say how many. A rout will always force a coaching staff to analyze their options and contemplate changes, but I’m not sure how many we will see next weekend. Four allowed goals doesn’t flatter Shuttleworth, but it’s important to recognize that he was letdown by his defense. The defense was shaky to start, but they got more comfortable as time went on. Patrick Mullins didn’t play a lot of defense, but there aren’t many healthy choices behind him. A formation change, perhaps a 4-4-2, could be in order, but Heaps has shown a preference for the 4-1-4-1. This upcoming week will be important for Heaps as onlookers will be curious to see how the young coach responds to defeat.
(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)