A season high crowd of 21,297 saw the New England Revolution draw with the Houston Dynamo.
It was a result that did nothing for the Revs playoff hopes.
With four games left New England are in sixth place with 41 points, leaving them one point out of the playoffs with four games to go.
With three of the next four games away from home (New York, Montreal, and Columbus) making the playoffs will be extremely difficult for New England now.
If the Revs don’t make the playoffs they might look back to the Juan Agudelo injury as the turning point in the season. Without him, Jay Heaps persists with Dimitry Imbongo up-front in a decision I cannot understand.
Jay Heaps was full of praise for Imbongo after the game tonight, talking about his physical presence, how he holds the ball up for the midfield players to join the attack.
What Heaps fails to mention is that Imbongo is constantly offside or making offside runs which slows down the New England attack. In his 60 minutes on the pitch tonight, Imbongo was caught offside four times. The most frustrating part about the offsides, is that it is not as if Imbongo is playing off the shoulder of the last defender like Javier Hernandez and getting caught offside that way. On at least two of the calls tonight, Imbongo was out wide looking across the Houston back four and could see where the defenders were positioned.
When Agudelo came on for an injured Imbongo in the 62nd minute, suddenly New England’s offense clicked. Heaps moved Fagundez into a more central position and he and Agudelo’s terrified the Houston back-four with their speed. As a result the Houston back-four started to retreat further and further, so that they wouldn’t be beat over the top, and that created space in the attacking third for Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen.
Which is how New England scored. Nguyen found himself with lots of space running at the Houston defense before slipping in a nice ball for Saer Sene to score his fifth goal of the season.
With Agudelo leaving in January to join Stoke City in January, it will be interesting to see who Heaps and Mike Burns brings in to replace him. New England has an abundance of speed, and they need to striker who can play off that last defender. That is not the style of Imbongo or Chad Barrett.
For the 10 minutes after scoring NE threated to tear the Houston defense to pieces, but could not get the all-important second goal and the experienced Houston side were able to weather the storm and get the equalizer in the 76th minute from Will Bruin.
Houston coach Dominic Kinnear was really happy with his teams performance, especially considering this was the Dynamo’s third game in the last seven days.