FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution took a second half lead through Saer Sene, but were unable to hold on as the Houston Dynamo fought back to tie the match on a goal by Will Bruin, forcing the Revolution to settle for a 1-1 draw in front of 21,297 – the largest crowd of the season – at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.
Sene’s goal from a tight angle opened the scoring in the 65th minute, but sloppy defending allowed the Dynamo to get back into the game in the 76th minute as Will Bruin beat Andrew Farrell and Matt Reis to knot the score at 1-1. Neither side was able to find a winner from there.
“I thought it was a good effort and great energy from our group.” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “We played a tough opponent tonight. I thought we had opportunities to close the game out, but Houston’s a really good team and they hold on. You wonder how they made it to two MLS Cups in a row – they know how to grind these games out. Unfortunately we didn’t take these chances as well as we can and it’s a point, but at the same time we need more points at home.”
The draw left the Revolution (11-11-8, 41 points) unable to keep pace with the Philadelphia Union (11-10-9, 42 points), who won on Friday, falling out of playoff positioning and into sixth in the East. Houston (12-10-8, 44 points) remains three points ahead of the Revolution in fourth place.
Heaps opted to use an unchanged line-up from the team that beat D.C. United 2-1 last weekend. Despite the consistency in lineups, neither the Revolution nor the Dynamo were able to generate much of a flow offensively in the first half.
The Dynamo had the first chance on frame in the 23rd minute when Brad Davis sent in a dangerous free kick from the right flank. Davis’ service found Giles Barnes, who directed a header on goal, but it was easily saved by goalkeeper Matt Reis.
New England finally had a dangerous chance in the 39th after Dimitry Imbongo earned a dangerous free kick just outside the box. Lee Nguyen sent it short to Chris Tierney, who blasted a shot towards the near post that hit off the woodwork before Tally Hall managed to punch it out.
“We have [been working on that in training,” said Tierney. “We’ve kind of been waiting for the right opportunity in close to the 18 [yard box]. I thought it was in when I hit it for sure, but credit to Tally Hall, I’m not sure how he kept it out. Great save on his part. Unlucky.”
Dangerous free kicks would become a pattern for the Revolution down the stretch as the Dynamo continued to foul when the home team got in dangerous positions, but the Revolution couldn’t take advantage.
“[Set pieces] are something we continue to work on,” said Heaps. “They’re not easy. It’s not something you can sit there and go, ‘we want to be good at those’. We work really hard at them. I thought our play in the first half was really good with Tierney – that was a designed play. I think it happened to us a little bit last year where we get on a little bit of a role and we’re really tough on the break, so what they do is they foul us and they stop it and we need to be better at punishing teams that are going to foul us 25 yards from goal.”
Those two chances were the only real opportunities of the half for either side and things didn’t get much better in the second half, until Houston had a chance in the 54th minute when Oscar Boniek Garcia tried to play Will Bruin into the box. The ball fell to the A.J. Soares, but Bruin was able to get control of the ball and hit a low shot on frame that Reis was well positioned to collect.
With both sides struggling to get anything going offensively, the New England Revolution made a change in the 62nd minute, bringing on Juan Agudelo, who had been struggling with a hamstring injury, for Imbongo, who had gone down with an injury.
Three minutes later the Revolution took the lead through Saer Sene. Lee Nguyen played Sene into the right side of the box and Sene blasted a shot into the far side of the net from a tight angle to make it 1-0.
“We won the ball in the midfield and we all made a run in the box – Diego and me – and Lee choose me and played me the ball,” said Sene. “I finished it, how we worked on in practice.”
New England had a chance to add to the lead in the 71st minute when Nguyen played Diego Fagundez into the right side of the box. Fagundez ran in on goal attempted a shot to the far post, but his effort was wide of the net and out of reach of Agudelo at the far post.
The Dynamo tied it in the 76th minute through Will Bruin after Andrew Farrell botched a clearance, sending it right to Garcia at the top of the box. Garcia played it to Bruin who found space around Farrell and finished past Reis.
Bruin came close to adding to his tally in the 82nd minute after getting into the box, but sent his shot just wide of the far post.
New England had a chance to grab the crucial three points in the 90th minute when Rowe found Nguyen at the top of the box with a throw-in. Nguyen chipped a ball to the six yard both where Agudelo attempted to volley a shot on goal, but his effort was right at Tally Hall, who easily made the save.
The home side earned one final chance with a free kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time, but Sene’s attempted shot was wide of the target.
“I worked on [free kicks] with Chris Tierney,” said Sene. “It was a close free kick and I just felt it and said ‘I’m going shoot it’. Almost, but no goal.”
The Revolution return to action on October 5th with a trip to face the New York Red Bulls at 7pm. New England has four games left as they look to make a playoff push.