FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Kevin Alston a surprise goal scorer in Saturday’s critical 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo. After all, his winner was the sixth-year defender’s first career MLS goal.
But it didn’t come as much of a shock to assistant coach Tom Soehn, who clearly saw an opening for Alston to attack down the left side and encouraged his outside back to do so in the second half.
“We talked at halftime and they left a lot of space for Kevin to attack,” said Soehn, who led the Revs in the absence of the suspended Jay Heaps. “I think Kevin just needs the confidence to really take those spaces. So we talked about it. I was real happy for him that it came.”
“Tommy was just pushing me all game, just telling me the space was there, just get in the attack, get wide and just try to help out,” said Alston, who made his first start since the season opener in place of the injured Chris Tierney. “I think that pushing really helped me to just be in a good spot to start.”
The breakthrough arrived in the 68th minute. Alston’s attempted give-and-go with Daigo Kobayashi was blocked, but Kobayashi was able to push the ball to Teal Bunbury, who forced it through to Alston. With only Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to beat, Alston drilled his effort just under the crossbar.
It was the Revolution’s third goal of the season and the club’s first at home, but another followed soon after. Second-half substitute Jerry Bengtson made a heads up play when he darted in front of Hall in stoppage time, rounding the ‘keeper and finishing inside the near post.
“Part of the talk at halftime was we just need to have that killer instinct,” said Soehn. “This team continues to create opportunities and I think today helps get us over that hump to get those couple goals. We’ve done a good job. We’ve been organized, compact and some of the results haven’t gone our way. So it was refreshing to get the result today.”
It was also refreshing to see Alston celebrating a game winner in front of the home supporters. It was one year ago this month that Alston was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, and Saturday was his first start at Gillette Stadium since the diagnosis.
Alston picked a decent way to mark the occasion.
“Amazing to just finally break the seal,” said Alston, whose only previous career goal came in the 2010 SuperLiga Final. “It’s six years [in the league] and I’m just glad it’s finally here. I can say I scored at least one in my career.”