New England Soccer Today

Second Half Improvement Not Enough

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

The New England Revolution were thoroughly outplayed in the first half on Saturday on their way to a 3-0 loss at FC Dallas on Independence Day. Dallas maintained 60.3% of the possession and out-passed the Revolution 272 to 177 with 83% passing accuracy compared to 73% for New England in the first forty-five.

Despite the hosts near total domination of the opening frame, New England went into the break only down 1-0 on a Mauro Diaz free kick goal after a sloppy London Woodberry giveaway and foul. The team still had a chance to make a comeback and end the three game MLS losing streak they had entering the match.

Whatever message head coach Jay Heaps sent at the break seemed to work initially as the Revolution came out of halftime and maintained 78.6% possession in the first five minutes of the second period. The Revolution also passed at an 87% clip in that stretch compared to just 63% for Dallas, while being credited with two chances with zero for Dallas.

After a Dallas turnover just seconds into the half, the Revolution would have their best spell of the match. Teal Bunbury found acres of space down the right flank after his defender slipped and sent a tantalizing low cross into the box. Dallas defender Matt Hedges managed to clear, but it was right back to the Revolution.

Bunbury, Daigo Kobayashi and Kevin Alston then all combined off the ensuing throw-in on the right flank before Alston sent in a cross to Davies on the doorstep. Davies redirected the ball on frame from close range, but Dan Kennedy was there to make the save.

“I thought at the start of the second half we put together some decent stuff,” Revolution defender Chris Tierney told the media after the half.

Hedges slipped as Kennedy made the save on Davies and may have grazed the ball with his arm on the play before clearing it from the box, leading Davies and Heaps to argue for a handball.

“From our vantage point it looked like a handball,” said Heaps after the match. “I think it was handball, it’s just a matter of if his hand was in a natural position or not. I’ve got to look at it. Obviously it’s a game changing call either way, but that said we didn’t handle the rest of the game very well.”

“I thought maybe we had a shout for a penalty early on which would’ve kept us in it,” said Tierney who was just outside the box as the play unfolded.

Davies would create some more danger for the Revolution in the 49th minute as his man slipped, giving the New England striker space down the left flank. Davies charged down the field before hitting a cross into the box that was just a bit too far for the onrushing Revolution attackers to get to. The play still led to an attacking throw-in for the Revolution that was eventually played to Lee Nguyen who found Davies at the top of the 6-yard box. With a defender on his back and his back to goal, Davies attempted to turn and shoot, but a last ditch tackle prevented him from getting the shot off.

In the same minute, a long ball from Jose Goncalves put Diego Fagundez into a one-on-one battle from the ball with Zach Loyd. Loyd’s superior height and strength allowed him to head it back to Kennedy, while holding off Fagundez.

Although the dominance dropped from there, the Revolution still held the edge in possession with 56.9% from the 50th to 55th minute and 55.6% from the 55th to 60th minute. The Revolution also got off five crosses in the first ten minutes of the half after attempting just three in the first half.

That was about all the fight back the Revolution could muster, however, as Dallas would control 76.2% possession from the 60th to 65th minute and double their lead in the 64th minute after poor giveaway from Goncalves sent Mauro Diaz down the right flank with space. Bobby Shuttleworth saved Fabian Castillo’s initial shot after he got the ball from Diaz, but after Scott Caldwell’s clearance deflect off Jeremy Hall and went right back to Castillo, there was no denying the Dallas attacking midfielder from making it 2-0.

“We were definitely trying to press high in the beginning of the second half, but we didn’t get anything out of it,” said Caldwell. “It didn’t lead to anything and they caught us. Bad clearance on my part and they put us away. Giving up that second goal was tough.”

The drop in play also corresponded somewhat with Heaps replacing Davies, who was heavily involved in the Revolution’s improved early start to the second half, with Juan Agudelo in the 56th minute. After being credited with two chances created credited in the first five minutes of the half, the Revolution would have just two chances created in the final half hour with Fagundez (66th) and Kelyn Rowe (78th) both having shots blocked. The team also attempted just two crosses (both failed) after attempting five in the first ten minutes of the half.

In between the Revolution’s final two chances, Michael Barrios put the game out of reach in the 73rd minute off a beautiful through ball from Diaz.

“We just couldn’t find the final ball, couldn’t get it in the net and they hit us on the break twice and that was the story of the game,” said Tierney.

Now the Revolution will head to New Jersey to face the New York Red Bulls next weekend as they continue to search for an end to their losing run.

“We’ve got to look back at this game, see what we did wrong, but also have a short memory and just be ready to go for next week’s big game,” said Caldwell.

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