It looked like a depleted New England Revolution side was going to get out of Houston with a draw until Hunter Freeman’s 86th minute goal broke the Revolution’s resolve and handed the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win.
It was the Revs’ second consecutive shutout loss after starting the season unbeaten through four games, while it was also their first-ever loss in Houston after five previous successful visits.
The victory helped the Dynamo (2-1-2, 8 pts.) leapfrog the Revolution (1-2-3, 6 pts.) into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference. It was the Revs’ second straight shutout loss after suffering their first setback of the season last weekend against Real Salt Lake.
As expected, New England without regulars Ousmane Dabo, Didier Domi, Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan through a combination if injury and suspension, set up in a defensive formation as Steve Nicol looked to limit the Houston attack.
Houston almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Matt Reis failed to hold Brad Davis shot. The ball rebounded out to Will Bruin but his shot was cleared off the line by A.J. Soares.
Houston, who had 13 shots in the first half alone, continued to pepper the New England goal, but a combination of good goalkeeping by Matt Reis and poor finishing by the Dynamo forwards meant that the game was still scoreless at half-time.
The second hand was more of the same, with Houston throwing men forward and New England defending for their lives.
Bobby Boswell went close twice within a minute to giving Houston the lead. First he saw his shot cleared off the line by Schilawski and then he hit the post a minute later.
Replays showed that Boswell’s original shot was over the line before Schilawski got to it, but somehow the linesman failed to see it.
Finally, Houston got the breakthrough they deserved four minutes from time. Davis’ corner kick was met well by Weaver, whose header bounced up in the air off the crossbar. As the ball came down, Freeman got position on Reis and forced the ball over the line to hand the Dynamo all three points. It was a soft goal for New England to concede, especially so close to the final whistle.
Next up for the Revs is a home date with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, April 23. I will be blogging this game from the press box again.