The New England Revolution preached all week that three points weren't going to come easily against FC Dallas, and that lesson was learned the hard way in Saturday's 4-2 loss at Gillette Stadium. Dallas took the lead on two different occasions and the Revs fought back valiantly, but there ultimately wasn't enough conviction to put Oscar Pareja's side away.
Against a crew that many picked in preseason as MLS Cup favorites, simple and avoidable mistakes were plentiful. Whether it was Bobby Shuttleworth conceding a penalty inside the first three minutes, Atiba Harris easily heading home off a corner, or Samba entirely mishandling a clearance on a Fabian Castillo's game-winner, the Revs were left ruing what could have been.
"Overall, defensively we obviously we weren't good," Chris Tierney said. "We conceded four times at home, and you're not going to win any games doing that. So it wasn't a good night for us."
While New England couldn't salvage a point, there were momentary signs of encouragement. Juan Agudelo convincingly headed past Chris Seitz in the 23rd minute, marking his third strike in four games. Lee Nguyen also recorded a goal and assist - hours after being left off Jurgen Klinsmann's Copa America Centenario roster - but even that couldn't reverse the Revs' fortunes.
"There's some bright spots there," Andrew Farrell said. "Lee had a great game, Chris Tierney out there on the left was good. Other guys had some good performances, but overall when you give up four goals it's just not good enough."
A disappointed mood overtook New England's locker room, largely because the Revs are now 2-1-4 on Gillette's turf. They have also conceded 24 times in 13 games, including seven times at home.
One might have expected a saving grace to arrive in the form of Kei Kamara, who was acquired via trade last week from Columbus Crew SC, but Dallas kept the Designated Player under wraps. Its center back pairing of Walker Zimmerman and Zach Loyd sniffed out crosses left and right, and Pareja said that their contributions were part of a grander game plan.
"We knew that they were looking for Kei there, especially in the air," Pareja said. "I thought Zach and Zimmerman neutralized him a lot, and we wanted to cut the connection with Lee and him, which in the first half was more frequent than we wanted. Just cutting that connection helped us a lot and forced them to play long balls and send balls into the box."
Looking down the road, the Revs' final match of a three-game home stand takes place next Saturday against the Seattle Sounders. Before Sigi Schmid's side comes to town, there's plenty that the Revs will want to remedy, especially along the back line.
That ailment was not lost on Heaps' players, as a constant sentiment reverberated post-game that the showing against Dallas won't cut it any day of the week.
"All of us, we're getting paid to play, so we need to step up and do a good job," Farrell said. "It doesn't matter who is playing. Obviously the communication and stuff is different, but we've got to own up and not get scored on four times."