In what could have been a hard earned victory and confidence booster in front of their home fans, weather permitted both New England and Kansas City from scoring Saturday, leading to a 0-0 draw in the Revolution’s home opener. New England is now 1-1-1 on the season and tied for 5th place with D.C. United in the Eastern Conference.
Wind is hardly a good thing at a stadium like Gillette, where a convenient opening between sections 143 (The Fort) and 101 created a wind tunnel that forced the ball to twist and swirl all game long. Shots were wildly off target and the keepers couldn’t even the settle the ball for goal kicks. Although you never want to blame the weather for match results, the Revs have had it tough to open up the season. First playing in the Windy City, followed by a slushy mix of rain and snow in Philadelphia, the beautiful game is being played in far from beautiful weather. One thing is clear after the past few weeks in the MLS, teams in cold spring climates should NOT be playing home games this early. Yes, scheduling is extremely difficult, but perhaps some neutral site tournaments to start the year could be implemented.
Aside from the weather, it was easy to tell what was plaguing New England’s goal problems. Scoring chances were prevalent, but the club rounded off the day with a dissapointing 3 shots total, none of them on target. Compared to Sporting KC’s 13 attempts on goal, players have to work harder to find open runs and execute on those up for grab headers over the box. Perhaps Jerry Bengtson was missed as he can certainly fly over defenders, but you can not rely on one man to win every match.
The referees were rather atrocious, inconsistent for the full 90 minutes and missing obvious fouls that banged up New England pretty bad (see Ryan Guy’s stitched eye). It was refreshing to see striker Chad Barrett earn the start up top even though goal chances were slim. Barrett looked quick on the pitch but most importantly was not scared to be physical and draw fouls. Most of back line was sound, including newcomer Andrew Farrell who makes a convincing argument for midfielder when bringing the ball up the right side.
New England will be challenged these next two weeks, facing a hot FC Dallas team on Saturday, March 30th at home, followed by a trip to Seattle in early April. Dallas comes in to Foxboro sitting at the top of the Western Conference at 2-1-0. They lead all MLS teams in total shots with 19 after 3 games. Defense, possession, and finishing opportunities will be the keys for a Revolution victory.