The New England Revolution closed out a two-match home stand on Saturday night by losing 1-0 to FC Dallas in an affair that could be easily categorized as a tale of two halves. Second-half substitute Blas Perez converted the winner for the Hoops in the 87th minute, after the Revs had enjoyed the better of the play during that period.
That score line would have been flattering to the Revolution after the first half, where they couldn't even muster a shot on goal until the 34th minute and were bailed out by poor finishing on the part of Dallas. In short: the first half just wasn't good enough.
"It was a tough game for us," said head coach Jay Heaps. "In the first half, there just wasn't enough movement, wasn't enough playing the ball quickly, a lot of what we work on all week just seemed to go away."
The stats tell the same story. New England was outdone by Dallas in shots (4-1), corners (3-1), passing accuracy (79.8% - 71.3%), and possession (holding only 37.6%), while out-fouling Dallas 8-3. Plus, Dallas passed up two glorious chances in the 14th and 40th minutes. Escaping to halftime was an accomplishment in and of itself.
In the second half, though, the Revs turned up the tempo and secured some quality chances. The midfield looked livelier, and it appeared the players in the attack were beginning to find some kind of understanding.
"Not playing that formation before, it took us a little while to get going," said midfielder Ryan Guy, who started at more of a withdrawn forward role. "I think with Juan [Toja] and I, coming into the second half, had a better understanding of each other's movement, and I think that showed in the beginning parts of the second half."
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to break the deadlock, despite some decent looks. Jerry Bengtson forced a save out of Raul Fernandez in the 58th minute when he headed a delivery from Toja on goal, but the keeper tipped it over the bar.
Kevin Alston wasted what was perhaps the chance of the match in the 69th minute when he was put clean through on goal by a defensive miscue (and maybe a backheel from Bengtson). With just Fernandez to beat from about the penalty spot, Alston somehow managed to put the ball directly at the keeper, who saved easily.
In the end, it was a quick mental slip that undid the Revs. While attempting to work a substitution, and with Alston visibly struggling with a knock, David Ferreira was allowed to get near the byline and cut a cross into the box. Perez rose highest and nodded the ball in probably the only place that Bobby Shuttleworth - whose several saves on the day probably saved the Revs' a lot of embarrassment - couldn't reach.
"The second half was more our groove," said Heaps. "But, unfortunately, you need 90 minutes to unlock a team, you need more than 45 minutes to play. Unfortunately, we only came for 45 minutes."
The loss puts them at 1-2-1 for the season, but more troubling, they've still only scored one goal. Their current scoreless streak stretches 298 regulation minutes.
New England has next weekend off, and will be back in action on Saturday, April 13th, when they'll be in Washington to face Seattle at 4 PM EST.