Revs' season off to brutal start

March, 8, 2014
3/08/14
11:09
PM ET

Goncalves
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsJose Goncalves held down center back despite being dogged by a quad injury during the preseason.

The New England Revolution suffered its worst season-opening loss in club history after the Houston Dynamo handed them a dreadful 4-0 defeat in Saturday’s First Kick clash at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Will Bruin terrorized the Revolution early with a pair of goals in the 2nd and 13th minutes, while Boniek Garcia made it a three-goal game in the 23rd minute. Omar Cummings padded the lead with a stoppage-time goal as the Dynamo coasted to victory.

The Revolution mustered chances in the latter stages of the first half and near the hour, with A.J. Soares and Diego Fagundez hitting the woodwork in the first and second half, respectively.

Prior to Saturday’s loss, the Revolution hadn’t suffered a season-opening defeat in which the margin was more than a single goal since a 3-1 loss to New York on Mar. 23, 2002.

What it means: Well, it’s no stretch to say that this was not what Jay Heaps had in mind when he said he wanted to see his club get off to a strong start in the regular season after last year’s early-season woes. For the first time since a 4-3 loss at Vancouver on June 15, 2013, New England conceded three first-half goals, and despite some decent efforts before halftime, failed to file a response. The defense that had been so reliable last year was a shadow of its former self, and the midfield didn’t do them any favors either. Fortunately for Heaps, there’s still 33 games to correct the mistakes.

Stat of the game: Despite the scoreline, the Revolution managed to collect 18 total shots, only two fewer than the Dynamo’s 20. The difference, though, was accuracy: Nine of Houston’s shots went on target, while only one of New England’s was on goal.

Replacement referees in place: Jorge Luna Hernandez was the man in the middle for Saturday’s match after the league’s referees and on-field officials were locked out by Professional Referee Organization (PRO) on Friday. Prior to the lockout, Ismael Elfath was assigned to referee the match.

Shuttleworth gets start over Knighton: Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Revolution lineup was the inclusion of Bobby Shuttleworth, who got the start between the sticks. The fifth-year keeper battled Brad Knighton for the starting spot throughout the preseason, but Knighton, who posted two shutouts and only allowed one goal during the winter, appeared to be the favorite heading into Saturday’s opener.

Goncalves shakes injury, starts at center back: Captain Jose Goncalves kept his MLS ironman streak intact by taking his spot at center back. The 2013 Defender of the Year played every minute of every match last year, but was limited during the preseason by a right quadriceps strain. He was listed on the injury report as questionable ahead of the match.

Mullins makes MLS debut: 2014 first-round pick Patrick Mullins was given the starting assignment at right midfield. The 11th overall pick played in all seven of the Revolution’s preseason games and scored in a March 1 contest against Colorado. He went 45 minutes before he was subbed out for Jerry Bengtson at halftime.

Alston comes off early: Starting right back Kevin Alston had to exit the game in the 18th minute with what appeared to be a leg injury. Veteran defender Darrius Barnes was called upon to take over for Alston.

Next up: The Revolution will look to put Saturday’s performance behind them next Saturday when they take on the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park (4 p.m.). New England went 2-1-0 against Philadelphia last season, with the last meeting a memorable one for the Revolution, who romped in a 5-1 win on Aug. 25.

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