FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution opened their home slate with a scoreless draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of 13,103 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Revolution had the better of the chances with a 17 to 8 advantage and shots, but was unable to find the back of the net.
New England (0-2-1, 1 point) earned their first point of the season, while Vancouver (1-0-2, 5 points) remained unbeaten on the year. The nil-nil draw extended New England’s 2014 scoreless streak to start the season to 270 minutes.
“It was a hard fought match,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “Difficult to get a ton going on both sides, but I thought we had 17 or 18 chances created. I thought we had a good time trying to get there, but I thought the goalkeeper made two really good saves. In the end I was happy about how we played defensively, but we have to be better off offensively.”
Heaps made three changes to the starting line-up from the 1-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union. Captain Jose Goncalves returned to the line-up at center back after being dropped from the eleven last week, while Andrew Farrell moved to right back. Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene got the starts in midfield in place of Scott Caldwell and Donnie Smith. The move left Andy Dorman alone as a defensive midfielder.
“Andy has been a player that when the going gets tough and you need to rely on someone, he’s always been a player that does well there,” said Heaps. “I was excited about his performance and that he went 90 because he had a couple of little injuries in preseason that he was able to get through.”
New England’s first chance came in the fifth minute off a Chris Tierney corner kick. Tierney’s service found Andy Dorman, who powered a header on frame, but goalkeeper David Ousted made an impressive save, diving to punch the effort high of the net.
The home side had two more chances around the 20th minute mark with both Rowe and Sene attempting long range shots from just outside the box. Rowe attempted to beat Ousted to the far post, but his effort was just wide. Sene’s attempt to was saved by Ousted at the near post.
The Whitecaps first real opportunity came in the 32nd minute when Sebastian Fernandez found Darren Mattocks with a cross to the far post. Mattocks eluded Chris Tierney and then attempted a shot, but his effort from a tight angle rolled wide of the target.
A minute later it was New England on the counterattack when Teal Bunbury blocked a clearance and it fell right to Diego Fagundez. Fagundez put a low shot on frame, but Ousted made the save.
Vancouver’s best chance of the half came in stoppage time when Fernandez got the ball on the wing and found Mattocks running towards goal. Mattocks laid the ball off for Kenny Miller who dribbled around the top of the box before curling a shot targeted for inside the post, but Bobby Shuttleworth denied the effort with an impressive diving save.
Both sides traded half chances in the opening minutes of the second half with Shuttleworth being forced into a tricky save early. New England then switched things up in the 58th minute bringing Daigo Kobayashi on for Sene. A minute later Kobayashi was involved in a New England chance combining with Fagundez and Rowe on what eventually led to Rowe shooting just wide of the target.
Nine minutes later Fagundez had a chance of his own after Bunbury won a long ball from AJ Soares and laid it off to the Leominster native. The 19-year-old attempted a shot while crowded by four defenders, but his effort was just wide of the frame.
New England’s best chance of the half came in the 79th minute when Andrew Farrell sent a low cross through the box. Fagundez attempted to volley on frame, but missed the ball and it rolled through to Kobayashi who hammered a shot towards goal against his former club. His effort looked targeted for inside the post, but deflected off a defender and went out for a corner kick.
“Definitely I think we were attacking more [today than the past two games],” said Farrell. “Obviously being at home is nice, get to sleep in your own bed, get here and be a little bit more relaxed, but I think we try to play an attacking style of soccer. First games it obviously didn’t show, we didn’t get any goals and this one unfortunately we didn’t get any goals, but I think we’re getting better. I think the final third we’ve still got to get a little better, but we’ve got the players to do that.”
The home side pushed more numbers forward in the 81st minute bringing on Dimitry Imbongo for Nguyen. Despite the change, the Revolution was unable to create any good late opportunities.
While the Revolution remained scoreless on the season, the shutout was the team’s first of 2014.
“[The shutout] was very important,” said Goncalves. “That’s the start for three points. You need to make sure you don’t [concede] any goals before you start taking all the points and that’s what we did today. We created a lot of chances the first half and didn’t put them in, but I think it’s a good start. We get one point and confidence back and move on to the next game.”
New England returns to action with a trip to San Jose to play the Earthquakes on Saturday, March 29 at 10:30 p.m.
“I think we’ve just got to use [the point and shutout] as a springboard now,” said Dorman. “First point of the season first clean sheet of the season, so use those positives going forward.”