HOUSTON, Texas – After withstanding wave after wave of attack from the Houston Dynamo the New England Revolution finally conceded a goal in controversial fashion in the 86th minute and eventually fell 1-0 to the two-time MLS Cup Champions. Despite dominating the play for much of the match, the Dynamo (2-1-2, 8 points), looked headed for a scoreless draw with the Revs (1-2-3, 6 points) until Hunter Freeman directed a rebound into the back of the net with his arm.
Freeman’s goal came with under five minutes left in regulation time. Cam Weaver rose above the Revolution defense to send a powerful header towards goal off a Brad Davis corner kick. Weaver’s effort was denied by the crossbar and popped straight up into the air. As Revs ‘keeper Matt Reis tried to position himself to catch the ball, Freeman pushed himself in front of the veteran goalie. When the ball eventually came down, it rolled off Freeman’s arm and into the net.
Despite the Revs protests for a hand ball, referee Alex Prus allowed the goal to stand.
But while that decision worked against the visitors, it was the home side that could feel aggrieved not to have taken the lead earlier thanks to an additional controversial call from Prus. Another Davis corner, this one coming in the 57th minute, was poorly defended by the Revs and found Bobby Boswell, who back-heeled the ball through Reis’ legs. Zack Schilawski cleared the shot away and no goal was awarded, but the ball appeared to have already crossed the line before the second-year striker sent it away.
The Revs were forced to play a makeshift line-up thanks to the suspensions of central midfielders Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan after the pair received red cards in the Revs 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last Saturday. The team inserted Chris Tierney into the midfield beside Stephen McCarthy, while moving Zak Boggs back from his generally more advanced role to a spot in the middle. Up top, newly-signed Danish striker Rajko Lekic started in his debut next to Schilawski and Marko Perovic.
Unsurprisingly, the Revs struggled to maintain possession with their untested new starting XI and were on the back foot most of the game.
Just four minutes into the match Houston nearly opened the scoring when Reis couldn’t hold onto a shot from Davis. The rebound fell to rookie Will Bruin, whose effort was only denied by A.J. Soares clearing it off the line.
Reis came up huge in the 22nd minute, denying Boswell’s open header from close range with a spectacular diving save.
The Dynamo had several other gilt-edged chances in the first half ruined only by poor finishing, with Bruin the main culprit.
Finishing wasn’t the problem on Boswell’s 57th minute effort that Prus didn’t see cross the line, but a minute later it was just a matter of inches that made the difference as Boswell was denied by the post.
Reis was called on to make a big save again in the 73rd minute. Bruin had yet another opportunity to put Houston in the lead after he was played behind the defense. This time the young striker got his effort on frame, but Reis was there to make the save.
Houston finally took the lead through Freeman in the 86th minute and never looked like giving it up.
The Revs return home to face Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.