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Goncalves returns as Revolution draw home opener

Posted by Julian Cardillo  March 22, 2014 01:54 PM

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Jose Goncalves started and wore the captain's arm band as the Revolution drew the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon in their 2014 Home Opener (Italo Alexander Photography)

FOXBORO, Mass.- Jose Goncalves' return to the starting lineup didn't provide the Revolution with their first win, though it did earn them their first shutout of the season as they drew the Vancouver Whitecaps, 0-0, at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon in their home opener.

A crowd of 13,103 watched as the Revolution earned their first point of 2014 and improved to 0-2-1 on the young season.

Goncalves, after being absent from both the lineup and the traveling team for last weekend's loss at Philadelphia, donned the captain's armband and paired with AJ Soares in central defense. After recent discussions with the club, Goncalves looks ready to put past disputes behind him and focus on the season ahead.

"I think everything is going normally...Everyone is focused on the game," said Goncalves on Saturday. "That's most important. All the stuff, outside speculation, it can be a lot of speculation. But I am here playing with the guys, my team, so that's the most important thing.

"Everyone is prepared now...We need to get back into training next week with the winning mentality," added Goncalves. "We are going for the three points in our away game. It's going to be tough. We must start taking points because we lost so many points early in the season. This is not the start we wanted to have this season, but that's the way it is and we can still change everything and turn it around."

Goncalves anchored a back line that required Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to only make two saves for his first clean sheet of 2014. That's a key statistic, especially when considering the depth and creativity of Vancouver's team.

"We're going to take away a good, solid performance defensively from top to bottom," said Heaps. "They didn't have a ton of chances. That's always good. When we had our shutout streak last year and we did well, the other team wasn't getting a ton of chances. We limited them today. But we need to be more clinical on our chances."

The Whitecaps robust, five-man midfield owned possession in the first half, though the Revolution created the better chances. Andy Dorman had the game's first scoring opportunity, seeing his header off a Chris Tierney corner kick tipped over the bar by Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted in the fifth minute. In the 19th minute, Kelyn Rowe made a 15-yard run toward goal and uncorked a shot that whistled inches wide of the far post.

Rowe left the game in the 89th minute reportedly clutching his hamstring. He was sidelined last week with a hamstring injury, though his current status is still unknown.

Whitecaps Head Coach Carl Robinson made two substitutions in the second half to open up the game and give the visitors some offensive help. He first took off Sebastian Fernandez at halftime for Pedro Morales, who set up the Whitecaps' first two meaningful looks at goal, playing Kenny Miller in behind the defense to have a volley saved by Shuttleworth in the 45th minute; Morales also shot a 20-yard freekick inches wide of the far post in the 56th.

Robinson then brought on Kekuta Manneh for Russell Teibert in the 67th minute to add some speed on the flanks. That created a battle for control of the left wing with Andrew Farrell, who kept up with Manneh's sprints and prevented Vancouver's creative midfielders from going in alone on Shuttleworth.

"It's my job, I don't usually let anyone in behind me," said Farrell. "It's tough. First half was against Fernandez, a good guy, scored a big goal for them a couple weeks ago, then [Manneh] came in...You just have to be aware. Sometimes they get in behind but you just have to chase them down and let them know you're there. Get physical with them early.

"[We did a good job. AJ], had my back, [Goncalves] had his back. We looked pretty good out there."

The defense's performance was encouraging after allowing five goals in the first two games, though the offense is still goalless. The Revolution generated 17 chances, however, coming close multiple times.

In the second half, Kelyn Rowe shot wide of the left post from just outside the penalty area in the 59th minute. In the 67th minute, Diego Fagundez got the ball from Teal Bunbury in box, took on three defenders, and then fired a low drive that rolled just wide of the far post.

Daigo Kobayashi, who joined the Revolution from Vancouver in late February, had the game's last scoring chance, his shot from inside the penalty area blocked from flying into the goal by Andy O'Brien in the 79th minute.

"We need to break that ice, not just myself but everyone as a team," said Fagundez. "We need to break that ice and I think more goals will come...we had a lot of chances. We come home, we felt comfortable and we want to get a victory here. As a team we did well, but we just didn't finish our last chances."

The Revolution will head into next Saturday's game at San Jose on a 270-minute goalless streak. The team had a 540-minute scoreless streak at the beginning of the season last year, but still made the playoffs.

"It feels [like last season], but you're trying to break the ice and the ice is not broken," said Fagundez. "It's tough because you feel like it's on yourself. I'm going to go out there this week and make sure I take 100 shots instead of 10."

"It was a hard-fought match, difficult to get a ton going," added Heaps. "We had 17, 18 chances. The goalkeeper made two really good saves. In the end, we have to be better offensively...this has not been an ideal start...we put it together in some areas...In the end, we'll get more points, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough."

If you want to reach Julian email him at julianccardillo@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @juliancardillo

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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