FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After allowing five goals in the first two games of the season, the New England Revolution posted their first shutout in a 0-0 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Houston and Philadelphia combined for 25 shots (13 on frame) through the first two games, but the Revolution limited the Whitecaps to just 8 total shots and just two on frame.
“We defended well and didn’t give away a ton,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “I thought our back line was really good tonight. I thought [Andrew] Farrell did an excellent job. AJ [Soares], Jose [Goncalves], and [Chris] Tierney defended really well with the help of [Andy] Dorman. Their chances were limited.”
Saturday’s home opener marked the return of captain and reigning MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves. The 28-year-old was not dressed for New England’s 1-0 loss to the Union last week.
“It’s a good start,” Goncalves said of the performance. “We get one point and our confidence back and we move on to the next game.”
This was the third different combination of four defenders Heaps has deployed in as many games. Farrell missed the season opener because of injury and Goncalves didn’t dress for the game against the Union. Tierney and Soares have started in all three games.
“A lot of things were different,” Farrell said of what was different this game compared to the first two. “A different opponent, Vancouver, sometimes you match up better against different teams. They were looking for balls in behind to [Darren] Mattocks and [Kenny] Miller and we were prepared for that and I think the wind also affected that in one half. Having the Defender of the Year back is also changes things a little bit. The chemistry we have was really good.”
With the speed that Vancouver possess, the Revs were well aware of the long ball attempt coming from the Whitecaps’ defense and midfield. Neither Mattocks nor Miller were able to slip behind the back four at any point in the game.
The Whitecaps’ best chance of the first half came when Sebastian Fernandez served a ball deep to Mattocks into the area, but Tierney closed him down near the edge of the six-yard box and Mattocks’ attempt sailed well wide and out for a throw in. Vancouver’s first shot on goal came in stoppage time of the first half when Miller corralled the ball near the top of the box and curled a shot from straight away, but goalie Bobby Shuttleworth dove to his left to make the save.
Vancouver’s second shot on target came just over five minutes into the second half as Miller ran onto a bouncing ball near the top of the area. He jumped up and used an acrobatic touch to try and beat Shuttleworth, who was caught away from goal, but Shuttleworth got a hand to the touch to force it wide.
Another key cog to the Revs defense was Andy Dorman, who made his second straight start, this time as the lone defensive center mid. Dorman’s experience meshed well with Soares and Goncavles in the middle.
“Last week they just took that chance,” Dorman said of what was different with the defensive effort. “Today I think we limited their chances and obviously being at home allowed us to get forward.”
Although the Revs are still without a goal three games into the season, Heaps and his players were pleased with the defensive effort and are hoping to carry that over into next week against a dangerous San Jose Earthquakes attack.
“When we look at this, we’re going to take away a good solid performance defensively from top to bottom,” Heaps said. “They didn’t have a ton of chances and that’s always good. I think when we had our shutout streak last year, the other team wasn’t getting a ton of chances.”
“It’s very important to get back into training next week with a winning mentality,” Goncalves added. “We are going for the three points in an away game which is tough. But we have to start taking points because we lost so many points early in the season. This is not the start we wanted to have this season but that’s the way it is and we can still change everything and turn it around.”
“I think we have to use that as a springboard now,” Dorman said. “The first point of the season, the first clean sheet of the season so use the positives going forward.”