Far from perfect win for Revolution
Although he expressed his pleasure that his side's winless spell has come to an end after a seven-game barren run, New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol admitted he was frustrated that his side was unable to capitalize on the many chances it created in Wednesday's 1-0 win against FC Dallas.
Taylor Twellman's fifth goal of the season, scored from Clint Dempsey's assist in the 23rd minute, was the difference between the two sides at Gillette Stadium. However, the failure of the home side, particularly in the opening 45 minutes, to take control of the game by converting a higher percentage of the chances it created was irksome for Nicol -- who then saw his side almost concede an equalizer on several occasions.
"I think we played some great stuff at times and made numerous chances," said Nicol. "The bane of our season so far has been that we haven't taken our chances. We could have lost a couple of late goals tonight but, really, that shouldn't have been a factor. We should have put (Dallas) out of the way, especially in the first half."
Nicol watched as Andy Dorman was denied on two occasions by Dallas goalkeeper, Dario Sala, while Dempsey was unable to rediscover the golden touch in front of goal he displayed in the World Cup. The returning Revolution star was guilty of heading wide from a fine Twellman cross in the 28th minute and, four minutes into the second half, was unable to redirect a deflected Dorman cross into the unguarded Dallas goal.
That the Revolution were able to maintain their lead was largely thanks to a combination of luck, as the woodwork denied Ronnie O'Brien's speculative free kick in the 44th minute and Drew Moor's 81st-minute header, and the performance in goal of Matt Reis, who was in top form all night.
Reis' best save came in the 52nd minute when he stretched out his right hand to save Carlos Ruiz's shot, which was bound for the bottom corner. Minutes later, the Revs No. 1 dived at the feet of Kenny Cooper as the big forward was gearing up to fire his side level. Finally, deep into stoppage time, Reis came up huge again as he denied first Dominic Oduro with a diving stop, before throwing himself in front of Roberto Mina's follow-up.
"(Oduro) was wide open and had a good chance," said Reis after the game. "He didn't get it that much and I should have held it really. (After that) it was a reaction to get up and I knew there would be a collision."
Even after those heroics, Reis could only watch and hope as Oduro fluffed a golden chance with the last kick of the game, blazing a left-footed shot high and wide of the net. It was another lucky break for the Revolution, which Nicol felt was well deserved.
"I thought that they were going to do it with the last kick. We ran out of steam and got a wee bit of luck. We are due some more," said Nicol, who highlighted his concerns that his side is having to play so many games (seven) in such a short space of time (21 days).
"The schedule we have at the present time is crazy; players can't be expected to go for 90 minutes, especially with the injuries we have. We've had four games in 12 days, one of which was at altitude three days after playing in the heat in Columbus, and still have another three in the next 10."
With games coming thick and fast at present, Nicol was please to have Dempsey and Avery John available tonight. Both men played the full game and their coach hopes that some more familiar faces will be available for selection soon.
"Without (Dempsey and John) we have a solid lineup but the fact that we have them back and the quality they bring gives everyone a lift and makes the opposition take a step back," he said. "It was great to get the two players back and we hope to get some of the other players back in the next few weeks."
James Riley is close to match fitness and Daniel Hernandez also hopes to make a return to playing action soon, having stepped up his rehabilitation from an ankle injury this week with a return to the training field. The duo, as well as the likes of Joe Franchino and Khano Smith, will certainly offer Nicol more options when it comes to selecting his team.
In the meantime, the Revs are just happy to be back in winning form which, believes Reis, has been too long in coming around again.
"Tonight was our night though. It was good to get a 1-0 win even though it was ugly," he said. "It was just important for us to play better. The guys in here feel we are a better team than we have showed."
Andrew Hush is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.