HOUSTON, Texas – Defender Hunter Freeman scored the only goal of the game in the 86th minute as the Houston Dynamo earned a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on Sunday night at Robertson Stadium.
Freeman’s goal concluded a bizarre sequence in which Cam Weaver’s initial header struck the crossbar only to bounce straight up into the air and fall directly on the goal line, where Freeman was on hand to bundle the ball into the net. It ruined an otherwise stellar night for Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, who made seven saves upon his return to the lineup.
The victory helped the Dynamo (2-1-2, 8 pts.) leapfrog the Revolution (1-2-3, 6 pts.) into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference. It was the Revs’ second straight shutout loss after suffering their first setback of the season last weekend against Real Salt Lake.
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph and central midfield partner Pat Phelan were unavailable while serving one-game suspensions for red cards received last weekend against RSL, while left back Didier Domi (L hamstring strain) missed out because of injury. Meanwhile, Reis resumed his starting duties after missing two games with a right adductor strain, while rookie A.J. Soares returned from suspension to partner Franco Coria in central defense.
In response to the circumstances, head coach Steve Nicol trotted out a makeshift 4-3-3 lineup at Robertson Stadium. Usual center back Darrius Barnes started at left back, the versatile Chris Tierney partnered Stephen McCarthy and Zak Boggs in midfield, and Danish forward Rajko Lekic made his MLS debut alongside Marko Perovic and Zack Schilawski.
Houston almost opened the scoring in just the fourth minute, with the Dynamo’s attack predictably running through Brad Davis down the left wing. Davis took a powerful long-range shot which Reis saved, but the rebound spilled to Will Bruin 12 yards from goal. The rookie’s low effort beat Reis, but Soares was positioned on the line to make a lunging clearance.
Bruin threatened again in the 12th minute when he wriggled free to meet Davis’ corner kick, but he directed his header over the bar from six yards out. Five minutes later the former Indiana forward was at it again, pushing another header wide from close range after Weaver’s left-wing cross.
The pressure continued to mount and Reis was called upon to make a fine reaction save on Bobby Boswell’s free header in the 22nd minute.
After weathering the early storm – Houston fired 13 shots in the opening 45 minutes – the Revs slowly worked themselves into the action as the game progressed, eventually reaching the halftime break scoreless.
But just as the hosts pressed early in the first half, they did so again in the early stages of the second half. Boswell threatened twice in the 57th and 58th minutes, first seeing his rolling effort cleared off the line by Schilawski – although Dynamo players claimed the ball crossed the line – before hitting the right post just one minute later.
Bruin continued his quest for a goal when he was put through in the 73rd minute, but Reis charged off his line to make a leg save.
Coria almost caught Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall napping in the 76th minute, but his audacious effort from well inside his own half drifted harmlessly over the bar.
Houston finally made the breakthrough with less than five minutes remaining. Davis’ corner kick was met well by Weaver, whose header ricocheted off the crossbar and high into the air. As the ball came down, Freeman jostled with Reis and eventually pushed the ball over the line to hand the Dynamo all three points.
Next up for the Revs is a home date with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, April 23. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
New England Revolution at Houston Dynamo
April 17, 2011 – Robertson Stadium (Houston, Texas)
HOU – Hunter Freeman (unassisted) 86
New England Revolution: Matt Reis ©, Darrius Barnes, A.J. Soares, Franco Coria (Ryan Cochrane 79), Kevin Alston, Chris Tierney, Stephen McCarthy, Zak Boggs, Zack Schilawski (Kenny Mansally 79), Rajko Lekic, Marko Perović
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Otto Loewy, Ilija Stolica, Kheli Dube, Sainey Nyassi
STATS*: Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 1; Saves: 7; Corner Kicks: 1; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 8
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Danny Cruz (Colin Clark 75), Geoff Cameron, Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis ©, Cam Weaver, Will Bruin (Jason Garey 88)
Substitutes Not Used: Tyler Deric, Mike Chabala, Alex Dixon, Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie
STATS*: Shots: 26; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 1; Corner Kicks: 12; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 8
* Note that all statistics are unofficial
Referee: Alex Prus
Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry, Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica
Weather: Clear, 78 degrees
New England: 1-2-3, 6 pts.
Houston: 2-1-2, 8 pts.
- This was the teams’ first meeting of the 2011 season … the clubs will play the second of two games on Wednesday, August 17, at Gillette Stadium
- With the loss, the Revs dropped to 6-2-3 all-time against Houston, and snapped its three-game winning streak against the Dynamo, which dated back to the end of the 2009 season
- The loss also snapped the Revs’ five-game undefeated streak in Houston and marked the team’s first-ever loss in Houston
- Matt Reis returned from a two-game stint on the injury list with a strained right adductor … he last made an appearance on April 2 against Portland
- A.J. Soares also returned to the lineup after missing the April 9 game while serving a one-game red-card suspension for his ejection in the April 6 game at Vancouver
- Darrius Barnes played his first-ever game as a left back in a four-man backline tonight … previously he had played left back in a three-man backline
- Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan both served one-game red-card suspensions tonight … both picked up straight red cards in the team’s last game last Saturday, April 9, against Real Salt Lake
- Chris Tierney made his first start in the central midfield since May 29, 2010, when he lined up next to Shalrie Joseph in a four-man midfield
- Rajko Lekic made his MLS and Revolution debut tonight … he signed with the club on Friday, April 8, and the club received his international transfer certificate late this week making him available for selection tonight
- Ryan Cochrane made his first appearance against Houston when he checked into the game in the 79th minute … the Revs acquired Cochrane from the Dynamo in the Stage Two of the 2010 Re-Entry Process
- This was the team’s second game without being shown a caution or a red card … the team was also cardless in the season opener on March 20 at LA
- Tonight’s game was the team’s third in which it recorded a single-digit shot total
- Shalrie Joseph’s team-leading 25-game consecutive appearance streak was snapped as he was forced to sit out tonight’s game … Zack Schilawski, with a nine-game streak dating back to the 28th game of the 2010 season, is the team’s new current leader