Revolution draw blanks
Dynamo victors on disputed goal
HOUSTON — The Houston Dynamo have generally defeated the Revolution in big games, the Revolution dominating the teams’ regular-season meetings.
But the Dynamo found a winning equation in taking a 1-0 victory over the Revolution last night, the first Houston home win in the series in six games since the team moved from San Jose in 2006.
The Dynamo formula was simple — get the ball wide for as many crosses and set pieces as possible, then send in the big guys to finish. And that is essentially what happened on Houston’s 12th corner kick of the game. Cam Weaver’s header off the crossbar deflected up about a 90-degree angle, then was nudged in by 5-foot-11-inch defender Hunter Freeman in the 88th minute.
That gave Houston (2-1-2, 8 points) the lead over the Revolution (1-2-3, 6 points) for the first time in 535 minutes of play at Robertson Stadium.
Revolution coach Steve Nicol disputed the score, saying goalkeeper Matt Reis was fouled on the play and that Freeman handled the ball. But Nicol also said the Revolution did not create enough scoring chances, despite going to a 4-3-2-1 alignment as Danish striker Rajko Lekic made his debut.
“You can say Reis could have fought harder with the guy, or whatever, but that’s all the more reason for a foul to [have been] called,’’ Nicol said. “He’s making a jump and [Freeman] impedes him so he can’t jump. Otherwise, you’re saying Reis didn’t jump, and that’s hard to believe. If that happens 100 more times the ref gives it for us, but [referee Alex Prus] chose not to do it — and it hit [Freeman’s] hand, as well.’’
The Revolution performed without central midfielders Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan, who will return from suspension for Saturday’s game against Sporting Kansas City. And the formation helped lead to some threatening midfield possession in the first half. Lekic was strong enough to hold off defenders with his back to the goal and quick enough to keep them off balance running at them, though he seldom had the ball. In the second half, though, the Revolution rarely attacked, the best chances a Lekic half volley (66th minute) and Franco Coria’s 65-yard shot (76th) which sailed just high.
Houston, a two-time MLS Cup winner over the Revolution (2006 and 2007), had two shots cleared off the line, by A.J. Soares (fourth minute) and Zack Schilawski (57th).
The deciding sequence started as Revolution defender Kevin Alston blocked a Brad Davis shot for a corner. Weaver then slammed Davis’s out-swinging corner kick off the bar and Freeman scored.
“The ball hit the bar and went straight up in the air and I was directly underneath it, which is the worst place for a goalkeeper to be,’’ Reis said, “because everyone is going to come in on top of you. [Freeman] plays me first — he bumps me before I can get off the ground. That’s definitely a foul. But if that’s not a foul, then the ball bounces up and hits his hand.
“The only better thing I could have done is found him early, as the ball went up, and boxed him out. That was a soft goal, a fluke goal — you won’t see anything like that for a couple of years, the ball going straight up like that, coming down and going in the goal.’’
But Reis was not the only Revolution player who appeared to have been frozen on the play.
“There were four of five of us standing around Matt,’’ Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane said. “But if we run in we’re going to throw him off, or you’re going to hit someone and cause a penalty. The ball had a wicked spin on it and hits [Freeman’s] hand. It’s definitely a foul, Matt was obstructed.’’
The Revolution were blanked for the second successive game and have scored only once in the last 338 minutes.
“In the second half we didn’t get anything going,’’ Nicol said. “But we’re away from home and you want to be solid and be tight, keep resolute, and we did that. The biggest problem was going to be set pieces and we knew that. They have big guys and you have to try and defend them.
“We didn’t use the ball well enough to get forward. We had to make a lot of changes and it’s hard to have cohesion when you’re making changes. But we feel we deserved a point after what we put into it. It’s disappointing the way it ended up. Had it been a good play, good passing, a good finish, you would feel better about it.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.