By Kevin Koczwara
The New England Revolution have struggled to stop opponents on set-pieces, score on its own set-pieces (including corner kicks) and stopping opponents from scoring goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. Against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, the Revolution (4-6-1, 13 pts.) allowed Houston (3-3-4, 13 pts.) take advantage of New England’s shortcomings.
Houston equalized in the 32nd minute on a set-piece and tie the game just six minutes after a penalty conversion from Saer Sene gave the Revs the lead. Will Bruin scored the goal from a Brad Davis set piece. Bruin found space in the Revolution box and nicked his header past a flapping Matt Reis. It was the fifth goal from a set-piece that New England has allowed this year, and it wasn’t the first time that goalkeeper Matt Reis has found himself flapping at the ball this season. And New England coach Jay Heaps wasn’t happy about it after the game. Actually, he was “flippin’ mad” about it.
“[Set-pieces are] one of those things where you go over it and over it and over it and over it and over it and over it and over it. It’s disappointing,” said Heaps after the game. “I saw and I want to look at it when I’m a little more level-headed, but I’m disappointed in that. I’m flippin’ mad if you want to know the truth, flippin’ mad.”
Davis may not have had an assist yet this year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a threat on free kicks anymore. Davis is one of the best set-piece takers in Major League Soccer. Houston has plenty of big bodies for him to aim for, so giving away the free kick in the 32nd minute from a good angle was always going to be dangerous for New England.
New England didn’t panic despite some poor play — 66.2 percent passing accuracy on the night displays the poor display put on from the Revolution — and got what looked like a game winner in the 57th minute when Saer Sene broke in behind the Dynamo defense after a poor turnover from Houston center back Geoff Cameron. Sene scored his second goal of the game and his sixth of the season after he beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall from a tight angle to the near post — Hall should have handed the shot better. But, again, Houston wasn’t out of the game. With close to 62 percent of the possession in the game — 64 percent in the second half — the Dynamo saw plenty of the ball and that meant chances were going to come.
New England had allowed three goals in the last 15 minutes of games already this year — a troublesome trend that has continued from previous seasons — and not scored once in that same tire period. Houston on the other hand hadn’t allowed a goal in the final minutes — the only team in the league to do so — and scored two of its own. Houston would add the tying goal in the dying moments of the game, continuing both teams trends late in games, when Brian Ching chipped a pass over the Revolution defense to second half substitute Luiz Camargo.
Camargo took one touch and hit a near-post strike past Reis, equalizing and putting New England on the back foot in the 87th minute.
“We had about five minutes in total to try and get that last goal. Then we finally got that tying goal, which was great. It was a great goal by [Luiz] Carmago, who is one of our substitutes,” Houston midfielder Adam Moffat told reporters after the game. “It’s great when substitutes come onto the field and make a difference, especially a goal. So it was good for him. It was also good for Brian Ching who made a great pass to him. It was a good finish overall.”
Will Bruin and Brad Davis are Houston’s attack
Will Bruin is in his second year in MLS and he’s taking advantage of all the playing time Dominic Kinnear is giving him — he was leading the Dynamo in minutes coming in Saturday’s night’s game. Bruin scored his fifth goal of the season against in the 32nd minute.
Bruin and Davis have scored seven of Houston’s 10 goals, and combined for two assists. Without the two players, the Dynamo would be struggling for goals and chances.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at email@example.com.