HOUSTON – Daigo Kobayashi picked a fine time to score his first goal with the New England Revolution.
An 85th-minute substitute, Kobayashi’s powerful header in the third minute of stoppage time helped the Revs rescue a 3-3 draw in Sunday afternoon’s season opener against the Houston Dynamo.
It was a fitting end to a frantic match at BBVA Compass Stadium, as New England raced out to an early 1-0 lead only to trail both 2-1 and 3-2 in the second half. But twice the Revs clawed their way back into the match, first through Charlie Davies and then through unlikely hero Kobayashi.
“We fought until the end,” said Diego Fagundez, who opened the scoring with a long-range stunner before setting up both the Davies and Kobayashi goals. “That’s one thing we said; we need to fight. I think for fighting that long we got what we wanted, and it was to leave here with points.”
Fagundez’s third-minute opener had the Revs in front for most of the first half, but they were stung by Cristian Maidana (first-half stoppage time) and Andrew Wenger (50th minute) either side of halftime to see their one-goal lead turn into a one-goal deficit.
But New England’s response was immediate, as Davies – the Revolution’s leading scorer last year – got off the mark in the 52nd minute at the second time of asking, calmly burying his own rebound.
“I was very happy with Diego’s ball in the first place; it was a terrific ball,” said Davies. “I was disappointed with the first shot, but the second one came back to me and I said, ‘I cannot miss this one.’ I was fortunate enough to put it back in the net.”
That persistence summed up the Revolution’s afternoon, as again they fell behind when Giles Barnes finished off a well-worked move in the 77th minute, and again they battled back.
With the Dynamo sitting deep trying to close out the victory, New England threw numbers forward. With virtually the last kick of the game, Fagundez whipped a cross in from the right wing and Kobayashi maneuvered through a crowded box to powerfully head home a dramatic equalizer.
“I really like the group we have in terms of guys rolling up their sleeves,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We’ve added some real grit to our group with Je-Vaughn Watson and Gershon Koffie. It allows guys like Diego and Daigo and Scott (Caldwell) and Lee (Nguyen) to go and change the game.
“That’s kind of what happened on the last play. We were able to fight until the last minute of the game and then Diego and Daigo worked a little bit of magic.”
Of course, Kobayashi’s late equalizer doesn’t mask the fact that the Revs labored through a difficult first half and conceded three goals on the afternoon. There is work to be done moving forward.
But on a day when the Revs weren’t at their best for long stretches, they were satisfied with their determination and their ability to claw their way to a point away from home.
“For us to start out with a point on the road in a difficult environment, I wouldn’t say we’re thrilled,” said Heaps. “But I would say we were happy that we were able to get the point.”