FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution's backline was already missing a starter and wound up losing standout center back José Gonçalves during the game, but it still wasn't enough to stop the group from shutting down the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
The Revolution posted a shutout despite having to make a pair of changes to their back four. Chris Tierney -- a starter in the club's first five games -- was sidelined for the match with a hip injury and replaced by Kevin Alston, who served as one of the game’s heroes with a 68th-minute goal, the first of his six-year career.
Then, in the midst of a tight, scoreless game, captain Gonçalves absorbed a vicious tackle from Ricardo Clark and was helped off the field, unable to return with what was deemed a right quad injury.
The Revs, however, did not miss a beat.
“It’s tough to replace José, but I think we did a pretty good job,” said Andrew Farrell, who slid from right back into Gonçalves' center slot. “[We] jimmy-rigged something together and allowed zero shots on goal.”
Darrius Barnes checked in at right back, but not before giving Gonçalves a hug and some words of encouragement as the veteran was being lead to the locker room. Barnes then delivered a steady performance.
“Our subs really impacted the game,” said assistant coach Tom Soehn, who took over sideline duties for suspended coach Jay Heaps. “It’s never easy losing your captain and leader on the field. The back four, even as we made the change did a great job tonight.”
- Get more New England Revolution news at RevolutionSoccer.net
With A.J. Soares serving as the anchor of the group, the defensive unit choked the center of the box whenever Houston developed any sort of attack. New England won several 50-50 battles and made clearances consistently, leading the team to its second shutout of the year.
“We were limiting their chances and with a team like Houston, all they need is one,” said Barnes. “We were able to stay tuned in for 90 minutes and just clear out lines and stay solid, keeping everything in front of us.”