FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Saer Sène scored the eighth-fastest goal in MLS history after just 28 seconds and goalkeeper Matt Reis made it stand up with three saves – including the 1,000th of his illustrious career – as the New England Revolution claimed a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon in the 2012 home opener at Gillette Stadium.
It was the first career victory for head coach Jay Heaps after the Revolution (1-2-0, 3 pts.) suffered back-to-back losses on the road to start the season, while it was the sixth straight year the Revs won their home opener. The loss was Portland’s (1-1-1, 4 pts.) first of the season after starting the campaign with one win and one draw.
The absences of Darrius Barnes (L calf strain), John Lozano (R hip flexor strain) and Stephen McCarthy (suspension) forced Shalrie Joseph into emergency center back duty for New England, while the injury-plagued Revs were also without playmaker Benny Feilhaber (L peroneal strain).
Shut out in their first two matches on the road, the Revs wasted little time getting off the mark in their home debut as Sène opened the scoring before many fans had the chance to take their seats. Chris Tierney was afforded room down the left flank and whipped a curling cross into the middle for Sène, who buried a powerful header off the underside of the crossbar less than 30 seconds into the match. It was Sène’s first career MLS goal in just his second appearance.
Stunned by the early goal, Portland quickly went to work on the task of finding an equalizer. The visitors almost found it in the 13th minute when Eric Alexander’s square pass found Diego Chara in the box, but the Colombian’s first-time shot bounced wide of the left post. Burly target man Kris Boyd followed up by twice directing headers wide to the same side.
New England had a golden chance to double its lead before the halftime break when Sène sprang Kelyn Rowe on a breakaway in the 43rd minute. Rowe held off the challenge of a recovering Timbers defender but lost control as he tried to round Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins and the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
The Revs continued to press following the interval and Lee Nguyen forced a quality save from Perkins after weaving through a trio of Timbers defenders in the 56th minute. Six minutes later Boyd was again off target at the other end, sending a free header wide of the right post from eight yards out.
Reis made his 1,000th save count as he became the sixth goalkeeper in MLS history to reach the milestone with a crucial stop on a Franck Songo’o 20-yard drive in the 85th minute.
The Revs will head back on the road for their next two matches as they’ll depart for a two-game road swing through California and Texas next week. First up is a meeting with the LA Galaxy on Saturday, March 31, with kickoff from The Home Depot Center set for 11 p.m. ET.
New England Revolution vs. Portland Timbers
March 24, 2012 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
New England Revolution 1, Portland Timbers 0
NE – Saer Sène (Chris Tierney) 1
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, Shalrie Joseph ©, Kevin Alston (Alec Purdie 70), Kelyn Rowe, Clyde Simms, Lee Nguyen, Ryan Guy, Saer Sène (Fernando Cardenas 70), Blake Brettschneider
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Diego Fagundez, Kenny Mansally, Tyler Polak, Jeremiah White
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Target 5, Corner Kicks 6, Saves 3, Fouls 10, Offsides 1, Passes Completed (percentage) 318 (65.4%), Possession 43.3%
Portland Timbers: Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Hanyer Mosquera (Andrew Jean-Baptiste 24), Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace (Jorge Perlaza 76), Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury ©, Eric Alexander (Franck Songo’o 60), Darlington Nagbe, Kris Boyd
Substitutes Not Used: Joseph Bendik, Freddie Braun, Mike Chabala, Bright Dike
STATS: Shots 13, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 6, Saves 4, Fouls 17, Offsides 4, Passes Completed (percentage) 414 (72.7%), Possession 56.7%
* Note that all statistics are unofficial
POR – Jewsbury (caution) 16
NE – Tierney (caution) 18
POR – Palmer (caution) 35
POR – Songo’o (caution) 65
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Bill Dittmar
Fourth Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 55 degrees
New England Revolution: 1-2-0 (3 pts.)
Portland Timbers 1-1-1 (4 pts.)
· With the win, the Revolution is now 1-1-1 all-time against Portland after the two teams met for the first time during Portland’s expansion season in 2011
· The Revs are now 1-0-1 at home against the Timbers … the two teams played to a 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium on April 2, 2011
· The Revs picked up their first win at Gillette Stadium since a 2-0 shutout on Sept. 10, 2011 against Dallas … the Revs went 4-7-6 at home in 2011
· The Revs have now won six consecutive home openers at Gillette Stadium dating back to 2007 and are 8-3-0 in home openers since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002
· Saer Sène recorded his first Revolution goal of the season – as well as his first MLS goal – in the first minute on a cross from Chris Tierney
· Although Saer Sène’s goal will be technically recorded as a first-minute goal, it came 28 seconds into the game, which is tied for the eighth-fastest goal in MLS history
· Saer Sène’s first-minute goal also snapped the Revs’ scoreless streak of 224 minutes adding in minutes from the team’s 2011 season finale at Toronto … the Revs went scoreless in the first two matches of the season and today’s goal snapped the 15th longest goalless drought in team history
· Saer Sène’s first-minute goal was the second-fastest Revolution goal in Gillette Stadium history, and was the fifth first-minute goal in club history … Jose Cancela recorded the most recent first-minute goal on June 25, 2005 at Gillette Stadium against the MetroStars
· Chris Tierney recorded the first club assist of 2012 after Saer Sène headed home a first-minute goal … the assist was Tierney’s 12th career assist and first since his pair of assists at Philadelphia on Sept. 7, 2011
· Shalrie Joseph became the club’s all-time leader in minutes today in the 54th minute, passing Jay Heaps (21,619 minutes) … Joseph entered the season as the club’s leader in starts (241) and passed Heaps for the club record in appearances (245) in the season opener at San Jose on March 10
· When Kevin Alston went down with a facial injury in the 60th minute, Ryan Guy shifted from right wing back to cover on the backline before Alec Purdie came in for Kevin Alston in the 70th minute, moved to right wing and Guy remained at right back
· Rookie Alec Purdie made his Revolution and MLS debut in the 70th minute when he replaced the injured Kevin Alston … Purdie was selected in the second round (22nd overall) of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft
· Matt Reis recorded save number 1000 tonight in his 257th career goalkeeper appearance … entering tonight, Kevin Hartman led all goalkeepers with 1,379 saves, followed by Joe Cannon (1,235), Tony Meola (1,136), Nick Rimando (1,068) and Scott Garlick (1,021)
· Matt Reis also recorded his 65th career shutout tonight, moving him into fifth on the all-time shutouts list, passing Pat Onstad who entered tonight with 64 … Kevin Hartman leads all goalkeepers with 106 shutouts, followed by Nick Rimando (88), Joe Cannon (78) and Zach Thornton (76)
· Today’s match against Portland wrapped up a Gillette Stadium doubleheader -- the first multiple-game event day since hosting a CONCACAF Gold Cup tripleheader on July 11, 2009 – with Canada’s Women’s National Team defeating Brazil’s Women’s National Team, 2-1 … Gillette Stadium has now hosted six doubleheaders and two tripleheaders, and the Revs have picked up at least a point in six of those matches in Foxborough