When the New England Revolution returns to the area from North Texas it will have a big, stinging, welt on its back. On Thursday, the Revs conceded a last-minute goal that gave FC Dallas a 1-0 victory.
The sequence of events leading up to the fateful moment will leave New England feeling especially bitter about the result. With less than a minute left in stoppage time, defender A.J. Soares fouled Blas Perez around 30 yards from the Revolution goal.
Zach Lloyd stepped up and floated an inch-perfect free kick that Dallas captain Ugo Ilhemelu headed home. Shalrie Joseph‘s slack marking allowed Ilhemelu the time and space he needed to direct his header past goalkeeper Matt Reis from close range.
“Zach isn’t our usual free-kick taker, but he stepped up,” Ilhemelu told MLSSoccer.com. “It takes a lot of courage to do that. We made eye contact, and I knew it was coming to me. He served some good balls earlier so I was confident I could get my head on it if I just created space.”
The loss puts a skull (and crossbones) cap on 180-plus minutes of encouragement for the Revs, as they carry home three out of a possible six points from this two-game road trip. The good feeling generated by Saturday’s 3-1 win over the L.A. Galaxy has been tempered by the fact that the Revs lost a game to Dallas that it should have at least drawn.
A memorable spectacle this game was certainly not. But the way it ended pushed both sets of supporters to emotional extremes. Dallas created more scoring chances of a higher quality than the Revs. Reis stonewalled late efforts by Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo, and it looked like the visitors would spoil the home team’s claim to the full complement of points.
There were plenty of bright spots in New England’s performance. Reis and Soares — who limped through the final 25 minuts, but disrupted countless Dallas attacks — were outstanding. The Revs’ passing is improving exponentially, and Thursday’s game set new season highs in pass attempts (504) and possession percentage (58.4).
But there was not enough menace contained in all that possession. For much of the game, Dallas sat back and let its opponent build play through the first two thirds of the field. When the New England reached the final third, it was met by a wall of resitance that it could break through.
Kellen Rowe and Saer Sene were the only ones to test Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. None of their shots posed a real threat to the MLS veteran. Jose Moreno played 17 minutes in his Revolution debut, but failed to make an impact.
Dallas will celebrate a hard-fought, but costly victory. George John and Ricardo Villar were forced off the field with injuries.
New England is continuing to grow into its new identity — a team on the rise, and will consider this a setback. But judging from comments Soares made after the game, the Revs won’t take it as a major one.
“Credit to them,” MLSSoccer.com reports Soares told CSNNE.com/Revs Wrap. “But it’s one of those things where, if we put in that performance [every game], we’re going to win a lot of games.”
The Revs found shelter in the basement of their hotel when a pair of tornadoes ripped through North Texas on Tuesday. The team surely feel differntly about their special place when they check out and head home on Friday.
See highlights from the Revolution’s loss to FC Dallas in the video below.
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