Bruin-ing the Ending

KENNESAW, Ga. – A pair of Will Bruin goals two minutes apart doomed the Revolution Sunday afternoon as they dropped their preseason finale with a 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo at Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium.

Bruin, who scored in the 31st and 33rd minutes, gave the Dynamo a quick cushion while Alex Dixon wrapped it up with a 90th minute goal. Meanwhile, the Revolution, without the services of Ousmane Dabo and Didier Domi, struggled with possession and found their only measure of hope when Zack Schilawski found a goal in the 89th minute.

Despite their flat form for much of the match, New England recorded the first dangerous threat of the match in the 10th minute when Ryan Kinne got in front of a failed Dynamo clearance and volleyed it over the bar.

Shortly after that, both teams searched for opportunities, as much of the play was clogged up in the middle third as the half hour approached.

Houston threatened in the 28th minute when Brad Davis sent an arching ball ahead to Jason Garey inside the box. With a tough angle ahead, Garey nodded it across the goal mouth to Andrew Hainault on to the far post. But before any damage was done, Revolution keeper Bobby Shuttleworth smothered the chance.

But three minutes later, the Dynamo returned and capitalized on golden opportunity when Bruin took a hold of a poor Chris Tierney clearance and banged a ferocious shot from twenty yards to give Houston the 1-0 lead.

Bruin struck again two minutes later when Davis sent him a gorgeous cross and the rookie striker lodged it under the bar to make it a two-goal advantage in the 33rd minute.

Suddenly facing a quick, two-goal deficit for the second straight match, the Revolution hoped to get one back before the half.  However, the midfield failed to hold the ball and, thus, any aspirations to secure a speedy reply fell by the wayside as the first frame marched on.

Houston took advantage of New England’s lackluster form and continued to tilt the field in their favor for the remainder of the half as Davis exploited the right as midfielder-turned-right back Zak Boggs struggled to mark the seasoned winger.

The second half opened with much-needed substitutions for the Revolution, as Darrius Barnes entered at centerback for Ryan Cochrane, while Pat Phelan came on for Stephen McCarthy in the middle. Additionally, Kenny Mansally replaced Ryan Kinne on the left wing.

The moves appeared to work initially as the Revs looked livelier than their first half selves. In the 50th minute, Marko Perovic took a through ball form A.J. Soares and put a shot on frame from a tough angle.

Although the Revolution tried to find ways to cut the lead in half, the possession scale continued to favor the Dynamo and as a result, New England failed to sustain any kind of pressure into the attacking third.

Hoping to breathe more life into the offense, Nicol sent in Schilawski for Ilija Stolica up top at the hour.

While Houston appeared ready to pad their lead on a couple of occasions after the hour, the Revolution found a half-chance in the 62nd minute when Perovic dribbled into the attacking third and sent it wide to Nyassi, who was about to put one on frame before Tally Hall came off his line and suffocated the chance.

Eyeing a three-goal lead, Davis sent another threatening cross into the box that forced Shuttleworth to run up and corral it before it found another attacker.

Despite their inconsistent showing, the Revolution finally found a goal in the waning minutes when Tierney took it into the box with defenders buzzing around. The ball then squirted to Schilawski, who whipped it into the net in the 89th minute.

However, the Dynamo reclaimed their two-goal cushion less than a minute later when Dominic Oduro caught the defense snoozing and streaked into the attacking third, where Shuttleworth came up to thwart the opportunity. But Oduro’s shot was deflected right to Dixon, who easily slipped it into an open net to make it a 3-1 match.

With the loss, New England finishes the preseason sporting a 4-2-0 record (9 goals scored, 7 allowed), with losses in their final two matches.

The Revolution open the regular season next weekend against the 2010 Supporters’ Shield winners, the Los Angeles Galaxy, in Carson, CA on Sunday evening at 8pm ET.

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com