FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One particular influence dictated how the scrappy 0-0 draw between New England and Sporting Kansas City unfolded on Saturday afternoon.
And it howled and swirled through Gillette Stadium for much of the 90 minutes.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight, especially with the wind,” Revolution forward Chad Barrett told MLSsoccer.com. “I think I've played in a game like that maybe one other time in my career; it was like 25 mile-per-hour winds. It's very tough to play in that wind. We had some chances. We had some handball shouts. We had some things go unnoticed. That's just the way it was today.”
Any grand designs about the beautiful game dissipated soon after the players assessed the circumstances and weighed their options. The first option – playing it quickly on the deck – proved less fruitful than expected as the ball swerved around the field and forced the receiving player into an exercise best described as wrangling.
“You can try it on the ground,” Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell said. “That's what I'd say is the best bet. But with the way the winds were swirling, even the ball on the ground was moving. That was a dangerous ball today. We had to stay away from it sometimes.”
With the ball floating all over the place, the emphasis shifted from neat interchanges to safe decisions in possession. Short passes turned into long hoofs up the field.
Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes characterized the the encounter as a battle for territory – after all, it is difficult to make a costly mistake when the ball is down at the other end – and the affair unfolded along those lines.
Both teams attempted to cope with the conditions and tried to produce the one mistake required to procure a goal. Instead, the defenses and the wind gusts prevailed to force the Revs to settle for a point in their home opener.
“Everything that pops up on the turf moves a little bit,” Barrett said. “It can play to your advantage or it can play to your disadvantage. I think the defense did really well tonight to limit their chances and make sure we didn't make any mistakes at the back.
“We had a couple of times where we thought we caught them on a mistake, but all and all, both teams kept a solid back line. It was hard to create chances. And a 0-0 draw is what we got.”