The pressure increasingly piled on the New England Revolution's back four with each passing minute in the second half of Sunday night's 1-0 defeat in Houston.
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New England's inability to construct coherent spells on the ball in the second stanza pushed the burden of grinding out a point onto the back four. In response to that brief, the Revs' defensive corps submitted an earnest and forthright performance in the face of a withering barrage of crosses and set pieces from the Dynamo.
“We didn't get anything going in the second half like we did in the first,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol told CSNNE.com/Revs Wrap after the match. “When that happens, you have to be solid and resolute and that's what we did. The only trouble they gave us really was on set pieces. They have a lot of big guys, but we competed.”
For the most part, the Revolution dealt well with the onslaught despite the lack of relief. Franco Coria and AJ Soares submitted excellent performances in central defense, while Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes did as much as they could to limit the service from the wide areas.
The determined defensive work – a group effort that also included ample defensive support from midfield and two goal line clearances either side of halftime from Soares and Zack Schilawski – appeared to set the stage for the Revs to continue their remarkable unbeaten run at Robertson Stadium.
“We fought really hard the whole game,” Soares told CSNNE.com/Revs Wrap after the match. “As you could see, they had a lot of chances and a lot of the possession, but with the way we fought. We deserved something from that game. Getting that last-minute goal from them is really tough to take.”
New England's hopes of a sixth consecutive result in Houston crumbled in controversial fashion with four minutes to play.
The consistently menacing Brad Davis curled a dangerous corner kick into the penalty area. Cam Weaver rose highest to head Davis' tempting service off the crossbar. The rebound bounced high and Hunter Freeman and Matt Reis jostled for position on the goal line underneath it. Freeman did well to carve out his position and eventually bundled the ball into the net off his left arm to give the Dynamo the decisive tally.
Nicol expressed his frustration at the goal – a sequence in which he contended Freeman fouled Reis in addition to the apparent handball – after the match as the Revs eventually watched their determined efforts lead only to a second consecutive defeat.
“We deserved a point and we feel as though as we've been unfairly dealt with,” Nicol said. “Whichever way you cut that, it's a free kick, but, somehow, nobody sees it.”