Scoring Deficiency

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Blas Pérez’s 87th minute goal was all FC Dallas needed to grab another three points as for the third game in a row the New England Revolution failed to find the back of the net, this time resulting in a 1-0 loss in front of 10,284 at Gillette Stadium. The goal was just the second New England conceded this season, but the home team couldn’t get much going offensively as their scoreless streak extended to 298 minutes.

Just as it appeared the Revolution were headed to their second straight scoreless home draw, Pérez scored the game’s only goal. The Panamanian International got on the end of a cross from David Ferreira on the right flank, heading it past Shuttleworth, off the post and in to give Dallas the victory with an 87th minute goal.

“It was a tough game for us,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “Our second half was much better than our first half. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas from the coaches to the players, in every aspect of the game from set pieces … to moving the ball to attacking to defending. Just all areas of the game need to get better.”

Heaps made four changes and a formation shift from the line-up that drew 0-0 with Sporting Kansas City last week. The team shifted to a true 4-4-2 formation with Ryan Guy replacing midfielder Scott Caldwell and starting up front next to Jerry Bengtson, who returned from international duty to replace Chad Barrett. Juan Toja dropped back into midfield and partnered Clyde Simms, while Diego Fagundez replaced Kelyn Rowe on the wing.  Shuttleworth started in goal in place of the injured Matt Reis.

“[We started] Diego [Fagundez] for a little bit more offense and I thought he brought it tonight,” said Heaps. “I thought Diego actually did alright – a couple turnovers, but overall he was positive in what he tried to do. Ryan [Guy] was more for penetration, trying to extend the field. We wanted to be aggressive and you saw what we were trying to do in the second half. The first half was not good enough quite frankly.”

The loss dropped the Revolution (1-2-1, 4 points) into a three-way tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference. The surprising FC Dallas (4-1-0, 12 points) remains in first place in the West.

“We were all trying to fight for the three points here at home,” said Fagundez, a Leominster, Mass. native and the Revolution’s first homegrown player. “I don’t think anyone wanted to give it up. We just keep fighting and fighting and we had our chances. Of course they just have one chance and they finish it off.”

After an opening half hour devoid of any true chances, Fagundez and Guy would play key roles in the Revolution’s first opportunity of the match in the 34th minute. Guy found Bengtson in space making a run towards goal and the Honduran International played the ball to Fagundez who was running into the left side of the box. Fagundez hit a low shot towards goal, but his effort was too close to Dallas goalkeeper Raúl Fernández, who easily made the save.

“I couldn’t hit the ball as well as I should’ve,” said Fagundez. “It was just a bad hit.”

FC Dallas then had the best chance of the half in the 40th minute when David Ferreira got behind the defense on a lofted through pass from Jackson. Ferreira ran turned towards goal to blast a shot from close range, but Shuttleworth was quick off his line to block the shot.

Dallas came close again in the 43rd minute after earning a free kick on the right flank. Michel sent a cross into the box that found the head of George John, but John’s effort went just wide of the post.

After struggling in the first half to keep possession – the Revolution had just 37.8% possession in the opening 45 minutes – New England seemed to come out of the break with renewed energy in the second period and kept 59.2% of the ball. The Revolution also managed eight shots, after having just one in the first half, but still couldn’t find the back of the net.

“I think we came out in the second half and were a bit livelier and getting forward a bit more,” said Shuttleworth. “I don’t know what it was in the first half, but it just didn’t seem like we were into from the first whistle.”

After a midfield battle to start the second half, New England had the first chance in the 58th minute when Toja got the ball back after he sent a free kick from just outside the box into the wall. Toja curled a cross towards the back post finding Bengtson, who directed a header on frame that Fernández just managed to tip high of the bar with an acrobatic save.

Dallas then looked to have taken the lead in the 63rd minute when Jackson found Kenny Cooper behind the Revolution backline. Cooper put a header on frame, past Shuttleworth, but the linesman flagged for offside. The visitors could perhaps feel aggrieved by the call as Cooper appeared to be in line with the last defender as the ball was played.

Three minutes later it was Dallas again with a chance when a Michel corner kick found John about six yards from goal. John headed a shot on frame, but Nguyen was there to clear it off the line.

New England then had perhaps their best opportunity of the match in the 69th minute when some defensive miscues from Dallas somehow saw Kevin Alston through on goal. Alston hit a low shot on frame, but it was far too close to Fernández, who had little trouble making the save.

The home side came close once more in the 80th minute, when Bengtson got the ball on the right flank and sent a cross towards the far post. The ball fell for Toja, who hit a shot on frame from a tight angle, but Fernández was again equal to the task.

Jackson then showed a sign of what was soon to come when he caused the Revolution backline some serious problems in the 86th minute. The Brazilian midfielder stormed down the right flank, beat Alston for pace and ran in on goal. Jackson took one touch too many on the endline and Shuttleworth was quick off his line to grab the ball.

Just seconds later, Dallas would take the lead through Pérez’s header off of Ferreira’s cross.

“It looked like Ferreira just kind of cut it back and there were two guys at the back post,” said Shuttleworth. “Pérez got up and headed it across and to be fair he put it in a good spot, probably the only spot where I couldn’t save it.”

The Revolution have next week off from MLS action, though they do have a scrimmage scheduled for Friday against the Hartford-based New England Force. The Revolution return to MLS play with a trip to face the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, April 13th at 4p.m. ET.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue