FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Revolution assistant coach Tom Soehn wasn’t exactly riveted by what he saw in the first half of Saturday’s match against the Dynamo. In many respects, it looked like another match full of chances, but short of scoring for his side.
But once the second half came around, and Houston’s defense started to stretch, the Revolution overcame their finishing woes and found a way to grab a pair of goals late to secure a 2-0 win over the Dynamo.
“The game didn’t start out with a whole lot of pizzazz,” Soehn said. “But I felt like as the game built we started to feel it, started to create some opportunities, but we didn’t finish on the opportunities (at first).”
While the first half was, by no means, a work of art, there were chances on table for the Revolution’s taking. Chances that, with a little more precision, could’ve made the game a lot easier for the local XI.
Even though the hosts failed to get one by Tally Hall in the first half, it wasn’t due to lack of effort. But as the first five weeks of the season had shown, effort alone wouldn’t enough in the Revolution’s quest to secure their first home victory of the year.
Saer Sene’s 16th minute diving header put the Dynamo on notice, while Diego Fagundez’s quick-footed shot forced Hall to make a sprawling save nine minutes later. And with halftime approaching, Lee Nguyen fired a shot that Hall elevated to push over the bar in the 38th minute.
Even though nothing was falling through early on, there was reason to believe that, somehow, the Revolution were finally going to find the back of the net. After all, the trio of shots on target the club collected in the first half alone had already exceeded their 2.8 average shots on target per game, the lowest in MLS.
Even more encouraging: the fact that the Dynamo left acres of space out on the left flank, where the Revolution continually switched fields in order to get it to fullback Kevin Alston, who made a number of encouraging runs into the final third.
“We talked at halftime,” Soehn said. “They left a lot of space for Kevin to attack, and I think Kevin just needs the confidence to really take those spaces.”
Alston’s confidence was certainly boosted in the 68th minute. A few yards before the box, he looked to play the give-and-go with Daigo Kobayashi before the return ball was briefly stuck in traffic. No matter, though, as the ball found its way back to the Japanese midfielder, who fed it forward to Teal Bunbury. With Alston still lurking, Bunbury pushed it ahead, where the Revolution fullback raced over to rip a powerful shot into the net.
“It was just one of those things where it didn’t happen (as planned),” Alston said. “But I just tried to stay in a good spot and stay onside and stay in the play. Fortunate to just get that bounce that came right to me and let me take the shot.”
Following Alston’s goal – the first of his MLS career- Houston pressed ahead in search of the equalizer. But by committing numbers forward, they were left exposed, and that was especially true in stoppage time.
With time winding down and the situation growing more desperate for the Dynamo by the second, the guests were caught flat footed when Jerry Bengston hauled in a long ball from A.J. Soares and, with only a defender at the near post to beat, iced the game by scoring his first goal since last year’s season opener.
“I knew that (Houston) was losing and they were pushing up their lines,” Bengtson said through a translator. “When I looked, I knew that was the opportunity, and I looked over the shoulder, just took the space and scored.”
Moments later, the game was over. And while there are still plenty of questions marks hovering above the offense, Saturday’s win could be a sign that, perhaps, the Revolution may have finally found the confidence to finish the kinds of chances that eluded them during the first five games of the season.
“We keep creating chances, and we’re working on our finishing all the time,” Soehn said. “We almost said maybe we shouldn’t work on finishing and ease the pressure. But we said we’re going to stick to what we’re doing, and eventually those chances will start turning into goals. Thankfully, tonight, they did.”