FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution entered Saturday afternoon’s home opener against the Portland Timbers hoping for a fast start. It’s likely they weren’t expecting to get off to the eighth-fastest start in MLS history.
French striker Saer Sène scored just 28 seconds into the match when he got on the end of Chris Tierney’s left-wing cross and the resolute Revolution gutted out the remaining 89 minutes en route to a 1-0 win over the visiting Timbers.
“[Coach] said going in let’s put balls in their box, let’s put them under pressure to start the game,” said Tierney. “Saer’s great at getting at the inner crosses so I figured why not whip one in and just try and put it in a good area. Saer did great to get on the end of it.”
“It was a good start for us, obviously,” said Jay Heaps, who picked up his first career victory as a head coach. “Sometimes when you get a goal like that it changes your game plan a little bit. It took us some time to settle in, but I think as the game went on, there were things against us, things that were hurting us. But we fought through it and that’s what the most special part of the night was. When it got tough, we got tougher.”
It was a tall task for New England from the start as the Revs were without playmaker Benny Feilhaber (L peroneal strain) and defenders Darrius Barnes (L calf strain), John Lozano (R hip flexor strain) and Stephen McCarthy (suspension). Shalrie Joseph plugged the gap as a makeshift central defender, while winger Ryan Guy finished the afternoon playing right back after Kevin Alston was forced off with a facial injury in the 70th minute.
Joseph was solid throughout and along with A.J. Soares helped contain Portland’s physical target man Kris Boyd, who was limited to a few misguided headers. As a bonus, Joseph also became the Revolution’s all-time leader in minutes played (21,620) early in the second half, passing – ironically – Heaps.
“He played unbelievable,” Heaps said of his captain. “He was spot on all night. I don’t think he took a bad spot and he was able to lead us from there.”
Joseph will continue to be a key figure for the Revs as they head back on the road for their next two matches to face a pair of formidable foes in the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas. Both games present difficult tests, but the Revs can hit the road with a bit of belief after picking up a crucial victory at Gillette Stadium.
“If anything, it’s a confidence booster,” said Guy. “We know we can score, we know we can win. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. We played the Galaxy already (in preseason) and we did well against them. We have to continue to push on and whether it’s (with) a makeshift backline or not, we’re going to do it.”