If the New England Revolution will be able to hang their hats on anything after a disappointing 0-0 draw with D.C. United, it's that their shutout streak will continue. The Revolution have played 395 minutes of competitive MLS soccer without conceding a single goal, a franchise record that would make any team proud.
Apart from that, there's not much to like about the match. Diego Fagundez's scoring streak has stopped cold, the attack appeared disjointed and hackneyed, and New England succumbed to a disruptive United gameplan rather than imposing their own will upon the visitors.
"I was expecting them to push us," said Jay Heaps. "I thought they did a better job of pressing us on the second ball. When they would lose it, we would make a good two or three passes and then they'd get to that one. We have to be a little bit better at breaking pressure."
The first half saw the Revs create a number of chances, but it was difficult not to get the sense that the attack was a bit out of sync. United, for their part, was doing everything they could to pressure the ball whenever the Revs were in possession, making it very difficult for the home side to string together long sequences of play.
That tactic worked even better in the second half. A solid twenty minute period followed the halftime break where not only were no clear chances created, but neither team looked particularly threatening, either. Diego Fagundez broke up the monotony in the 66th minute when he seized a loose ball in midfield and drove toward goal, finally producing a shot from distance that just fizzed over the bar, with Bill Hamid apparently getting a fingertip to it.
Chris Tierney then played the ensuing corner short, and after getting the ball back from Lee Nguyen, cut onto his right foot and fired a shot off the near post and out for a throw-in.
"It's definitely a collector's item whenever I get a shot off on the right," said Tierney. "But, people start to overplay the left, so I've got to have a little something in the bag there."
The match reverted back to a slugfest again for another twenty minutes or so, before exploding into a flurry of activity in the final few as both teams fought to take three points from the contest.
Lee Nguyen forced a save from Hamid in the 88th minute after Andrew Farrell played him into the right side of the box. It was a good effort that had Hamid at full stretch, but no one was able to track down the rebound. Just two minutes later, Kelyn Rowe was played into the box and had a shot of his own, but it was essentially right at Hamid's face and the goalkeeper parried it away reflexively.
United finished up the chances in stoppage time when Perry Kitchen rose up to head a corner at the far post, but his effort fell just wide.
The draw puts the Revs at 5-4-5 on the season, and United at 1-10-3. The record is perhaps unfair to D.C., as many of their players remain from last season's deep playoff run, and their talent on paper is obviously much greater than the talent that seems to show itself on Saturdays. That doesn't mean it wasn't a game the Revs should have won, though, and several players were feeling the frustration.
"I'm pissed off," said Juan Agudelo when asked about settling for the draw. "Can I say that? I'm pretty pissed off."
Agudelo was involved in a first-half play where the Revs appeared to have taken the lead, only for the goal to be called back due to a foul Agudelo committed on a defender marking him. Fagundez had played in a cross toward Agudelo at the top of the six, but he and the D.C. defender marking him couldn't get purchase on it. The ball fell to Saer Sene, who controlled it and lashed a half-volley that Hamid got a piece of, but couldn't keep out of the net.
Head referee Ted Unkel - in his first MLS match as a head referee, it must be noted - whistled Agudelo for a push on the defender. Some thought the call might have been soft.
"It was 50-50," Agudelo said of the play. "I think if I had touched the ball it should have been a foul, but I didn't touch the ball, and I don't think he was going to touch the ball. We went up for the ball together, I didn't feel like I pushed him off the back that hard. But, yeah, maybe it should have been a goal."
The Revolution will be back in action on Wednesday night at Harvard, where they will welcome the Red Bulls in U.S. Open Cup action.