The New England Revolution played a hard-fought and exciting match on Thursday night, and though it ended in a 0-0 draw, it provided plenty of excitement for both fans and neutrals alike. The tie improved New England's record to 2-3-3 on the season.
The Revs conceded vast swathes of possession to the Timbers throughout the evening, but it appeared to be according to head coach Jay Heaps' game plan. When New England had the ball, they attempted to counter quickly and with efficiency, generating twelve shots, including four on target. In the end, they enjoyed just 32.6% of the possession with 64% passing accuracy, but they did not lack for chances.
The Revs were missing the majority of their defense, and started a back line featuring Darrius Barnes in his first start of the year along with Bilal Duckett, who had just been called in from Rochester in an emergency capacity. The lack of chemistry in the line showed, but they were able to come together and maintain the clean sheet.
No one should be prouder of his performance, however, than Bobby Shuttleworth. The Revs keeper tallied a staggering nine saves, denying Portland chance after chance and commanding his back line with imperious authority. Some will argue that Matt Reis remains the starting keeper for this squad, but Shuttleworth is certainly asking them a lot of questions.
Take, for example, what was arguably the best chance of the game. Will Johnson beat Duckett on the outside and played a near-post cross to an unmarked Ryan Johnson. The former Melrose High School standout fired off a volley from the edge of the six, but Shuttleworth was on the scene to smother and deny the goal.
Saer Sene again made a cameo appearance in this match, and again, the Revolution attack looked galvanized with him in the game. He had perhaps the team's best chance in the 84th minute, having been slipped in by Jerry Bengtson, but his low shot from the top of the box was saved by Donovan Ricketts and sent out for a corner.
At the end of the day, the Revs did what they needed to do to get a result in Portland. They absorbed pressure, dealt with the Timbers' signature quick counter and passing game, and earned a deserved point. Against a team as hot as Portland, on a short week, with a depleted back line, and after a cross-country flight, little more could be expected of the Revs.
Worryingly, Jerry Bengtson once again looked disconnected from the attack. While he managed to get a shot on goal, it's beginning to look as though his teammates are completely overlooking him when attempting to build an attack. One could hardly blame them; when they do include him, he often squanders possession by losing the ball far too easily, or misplacing a pass to the opposition. It isn't his game to link up with teammates and facilitate the game, but if he's going to be here and play in the system provided to him, he might as well adapt and try to get better at it.
The Revs will be back in action on Wednesday, May 8th, when they take on Real Salt Lake at Gillette Stadium.