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Sunday, April 17, 2011
Rapid reaction: Dynamo 1, Revs 0

By Brian O'Connell

Without the services of three starters, including captain Shalrie Joseph, the Revs were overrun in the middle and final third before they conceded a late goal en route to a 1-0 loss against the Dynamo Sunday night at Robertson Stadium in Houston.

The Dynamo, who applied heavy pressure on the Revolution defenders from the opening whistle, found the lone goal of the match when Hunter Freeman pushed it through in the 86th minute to give his club its second consecutive win.

With the loss, the Revs (1-2-3) have dropped two straight and fall from fifth to sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Dynamo (2-1-2) leapfrog the Revs in the standings and earn a share of third place with Columbus after taking three points with the win.

First loss in Houston: With the loss, the Revs' record at Robertson Stadium is now 4-1-1.

Joseph, Phelan and Domi unavailable: After receiving red cards against Salt Lake last week, Joseph and midfielder Pat Phelan were suspended for the match. Left back Didier Domi missed the match because of a strained hamstring.

Nicol goes with a 4-3-3 formation: Revolution manager Steve Nicol, who elected to go with a 4-5-1 formation in the Revolution’s first five games, rolled out the 4-3-3 for Sunday’s match. Without Joseph and Phelan at his service, Nicol inserted Zak Boggs and Chris Tierney with regular Stephen McCarthy in the middle, and employed Zack Schilawski, Marko Perovic and newly signed Danish international Rajko Lekic up top.

Reis returns: After sitting out the last two matches with an adductor strain, starting keeper Matt Reis returned to action. With Joseph out, the 14th-year veteran wore the captain’s armband and made a number of critical saves throughout the match.

Lekic makes his debut: The Revolution’s newest member -- forward Rajko Lekic -- made his MLS debut Sunday night. Although the Revs were kept off the board, the former Silkeborg striker put Houston on notice late in the first half with a streaking run into the box before his foray was halted by Tally Hall.

Barnes at left back: For the first time in his MLS career, veteran center back Darrius Barnes was assigned to the left side because of Domi’s injury. He looked confident and collected in the first half, but his performance waned in the second half after Freeman and Danny Cruz made a number of runs down the flank.

Center backs step up: A.J. Soares and Franco Coria each smothered a collection of deadly Dynamo attacks in the first half and were instrumental in keeping the hosts off the board in the second half until Freeman’s 86th-minute goal.

Perovic off his game: A number of Marko Perovic’s passes missed their intended targets. The Serbian midfielder/forward, who returned to action last week after missing three games, looked rusty and out of sync with his teammates for much of the match.

Back to Foxborough: After Sunday night's game, the Revs head back home to face Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Sporting KC, who are coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Columbus in a windy, rain-soaked affair, feature a potent attack but a suspect defense. In their last meeting, on Oct. 16, 2010, the Revs beat K.C. 1-0. Saturday’s match kicks off at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m.


Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.