By TIM FONTENAULT
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.– For more than an hour, the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo looked well on their way to a scoreless draw, but two unlikely goal scorers were able to secure all three points for the Revolution.
Kevin Alston scored his first career goal and Jerry Bengston added his first since March 9, 2013 as the Revs picked up their second win in three matches by beating the Dynamo, 2-0, on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“The game didn’t start out with a whole lot of pizzaz,” said assistant coach Tom Soehn, who filled in for suspended head coach Jay Heaps. “But I felt like as the game built, we started to feel, started to create some opportunities, but we didn’t finish on the opportunities. Part of the talk at halftime was we just need to have that killer instinct.”
It took a long time for either side to create a chance of value. Houston had two corner kicks in the first 15 minutes, but neither provided a quality chance at the goal for the Dynamo.
The second corner kick did give the Revolution a chance to score in the 13th minute. New England cleared the ball out of the defensive third and got out on the counter attack. Diego Fagundez found Saer Sene making a run into the box all by himself down the left side. Sene took the ball on his left foot and lost it as he tried to move it onto his right.
Sene again missed an opportunity to put New England ahead three minutes later, when his headed effort missed wide after a skillful service from Andy Dorman put him on the threshold of Houston’s net.
Houston’s best look at net in the first half was a left-footed effort from Tony Cascio that went high and wide of the net 20 minutes in. Once New England settled in, they got all the chances. The only problem was, they could not get past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Sene tried to challenge Hall from 25 yards away, and moments later, Lee Nguyen almost beat the Dynamo keeper from 20 out with a scorching shot. Diego Fagundez looked like he had him beat, only to be a rejected at the last moment. It looked like nothing was going to get by Hall.
But New England found the breakthrough 23 minutes into the second half. Alston trailed behind the Revolution’s attack as they made a run at goal, and when Teal Bunbury was able to turn at the 18-yard line, he laid it off for Alston, who fired it over Hall’s head into the net for his first career goal.
“They left a lot of space for Kevin to attack,” Soehn said, “and I think Kevin just really needs the confident to take those spaces. We talked about it, and I was really happy for him that it came because he has a lot of tools. The guy’s fast, just the confident to beat guys, and him scoring is going to help that confidence.”
In the 78th minute, Soehn raised some eyebrows when he made the decision to bring Bengtson into the match.
However, the Honduran rewarded Soehn’s faith by ending a 13-month scoring drought, when he beat Hall to a loose ball at the top of the box and dribbled around him towards an open net to seal the three points for New England in stoppage time.
“Jerry opened up the game. We were looking to expose him for pace a little bit, and we knew that they were going to press so there were going to be opportunities to get in behind. He did a good job when he came in, and obviously that second goal really helped and took the wind out of their sail and made us be able to relax a little bit.”
Despite the constant pressure in the attacking third, it was the Revolution’s defense that secured the win Saturday.
The team’s defensive performance was made even more impressive by the fact the team lost star defender Jose Goncalves to a first-half injury, which is being reported as a right quad injury. New England’s captain was taken out in a sliding challenge from Riccardo Clark and needed two people to help him to the sidelines.
When Goncalves came out, Soehn moved Andrew Farrell into the middle of the back line and brought on Darrius Barnes to play right back.
Houston had been having trouble getting to goal all game, and Goncalves’ injury did not change that. The Dynamo finished with no shots on goal despite nine attempts.
“It’s never easy losing your captain and your leader on the field,” Soehn said. “I feel when we put Andrew back there, he stepped up and did a fantastic job…Darrius did a great job coming in on the right side. The back four, even as we made the change, did a great job tonight.”
Saturday was the first time New England showed signs of anything positive in the attack this year. In their sixth game, the Revolution tripled their goal tally from one to three for the season (the 2-1 win over San Jose on March 29 included an own goal).
New England enters a four-match stretch that includes Chicago, Kansas City, Toronto and Seattle beginning next Saturday. If the Revolution are to get anything positive out of those matches, some of those chances that have been wasted will need to become goals.
“This team continues to create opportunities,” Soehn said, “and I think today helps us to get over that hump to get those couple goals because we’ve done a good job. We’ve been organized, compact and some of the results haven’t gone our way, so it was refreshing to get the results today.”
Here are the match highlights: