The boys are back!
The New England Revolution’s goal song finally had a chance to ring out in Foxborough, as the Revs downed the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, on Saturday. Goals by Kevin Alston and Jerry Bengston (yes, you read that correctly), were the difference in a solid all-around performance.
After a goalless draw in the home opener three weeks ago, not to mention a 4-0 loss at Houston in the season opener, New England put in its most complete shift of the year, and was rewarded with three points.
Five thoughts on the match, in no particular order:
The game started slowly, which might have been a blessing for the Revs (you might remember the time Houston scored three times in 23 minutes in the reverse fixture). That was partially thanks to Jose Goncalves, who, after a shaky start to the season, has looked much better in his last few matches. So the local XI surely had their hearts in mouth after a vicious Ricardo Clark tackle forced Goncalves out of the game. The Revs have some depth and flexibility in defense, but they desperately need their captain back and fit ASAP.
Defense steps up
Even without Goncalves, New England was rock solid in the back. The Dynamo scored four times against the Revs last month, but did not manage a shot on net in this one. The defending was excellent, and the back four came up huge in attack as well. Alston and Andrew Farrell/Darrius Barnes pushed high up the pitch, and A.J. Soares picked up his first-career assist on Bengston’s goal. Top marks all around.
Bunbury needs… something
It was not a particularly bad shift for Teal Bunbury, but it felt like he made the wrong decision nearly every time he touched the ball. In the 52nd, Lee Nguyen played a ball in from the right that was begging to be hit, but Bunbury simply flicked it onwards. Five minutes later, he struck a curler from 25 yards out that never had a prayer of going in. In the 61st, he picked up the ball 35 yards out, put his head down, and tried to dribble the ball into the net. Bunbury has shown flashes of good play, but calling his performance out of sorts might be generous.
Fantastic performance from the left flank
Diego Fagundez might have had his best game of the season on Saturday. He looked interested on Saturday, popping up all over the field and making some weaving runs.
We have come to expect that type of play from Fagundez. But nobody could have predicted the shift that Alston put in. He was solid defensively, and got high up the pitch all night. He made several great overlapping runs to allow Fagundez room to operate, and successfully took on his own man on more than one ocassion. He was rewarded in the 68th, one-timing an unwitting touch by Bunbury into the top corner. It was the first league goal of the six-year veteran’s career, and another great moment on his inspirational comeback from leukemia.
Unlikely goal scorers
We already touched on Alston scoring his first career goal. But Jerry Bengston’s clincher might have been even less probable. The striker has been out of favor for some time, and it was his first tally in more than a year. The Revs started the year slowly and have been looking for offense wherever they can get it. You could have gotten magnicifient odds before kickoff on Alston and Bengston being the ones to sound the Dropkick Murphy’s anthem. The boys are back looking for trouble, and the Revs are back in the playoff picture.