FOXBOROUGH — It wasn’t a perfect showing by any means, but for coach Jay Heaps and the New England Revolution, Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC was a step in the right direction.
New England (0-2-1), which lost its first two games of the season by a combined 5-0, has not scored this season. At Gillette Stadium, the Revolution attempted 17 shots to Vancouver’s eight, while controlling much of the attack in the first half.
The Revolution extended their unbeaten streak in home openers to eight, going 6-0-2 since 2007.
Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made two saves for the Revolution in the shutout, while David Ousted made three for Vancouver (1-0-2).
“I was happy about how we played defensively, but in the end we have to be better offensively,” Heaps said.
“I think we’re dealing with a couple of injuries, we’re getting everyone back, so when you have your full roster and the full players, we did well at times, but we’re still coming together a bit in that final third and that’s always the hardest part this time of the year.”
After missing last weekend’s game in Philadelphia because of hamstring tightness, midfielder Kelyn Rowe returned to the Revolution lineup.
He played with boundless energy Saturday and created chances until he came out in the 89th minute, when he was replaced by Scott Caldwell.
Rowe seemed to limp off the field, and after the game Heaps said he was being evaluated.
Midfielder Matias Laba was assessed a yellow card in the 88th minute, Vancouver’s third of the match, resulting in a free kick for the Revolution, but Chris Tierney’s bid was kicked out of the box by a Whitecaps defender.
The Revolution had nine corner kicks (Vancouver five), but the windy conditions made it difficult to land the ball where they wanted.
“That was something we wanted to be better at,” Heaps said. “We work on those and observe the other team’s situation, but our decision-making, whether to go short or long, was wrong. We have to do better at recognizing when we have the advantage and how quickly we can play the corner.”
In the 80th minute, the Revolution nearly broke the stalemate with a point-blank shot by forward Daigo Kobayashi.
The play began with a pass into the box to Diego Fagundez, who whiffed on his shot, but it set up a great look for Kobayashi, whose shot ricocheted of a Whitecaps defender and went out of bounds.
Kobayashi came in during the 58th minute as a substitute for Saer Sene.
“He came in and I thought Daigo had an excellent game,” Heaps said. “He had a great chance and worked so hard. He’s so good with the ball and crafty.”
Fagundez also had a scoring chance in the 66th minute, after he dribbled the ball through three defenders and into the top corner of the box. Fagundez planted his strike toward an opening at the far post but it sailed just wide.
The Revolution controlled the first half, attacking from the opening kickoff.
The Revolution managed eight shots in the first half, putting three on goal, while the Whitecaps had just two.
The Revolution’s best scoring look in the first half came at the five-minute mark when Andy Dorman flicked Tierney’s corner kick toward an opening at the near post, but Ousted turned it away.
“It’s important to start well,” Dorman said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do enough to get the goal, but it was a positive start by us. I think we worked hard and played well at times, I’m just a little disappointed we couldn’t get the win.”
Defender Jose Goncalves returned to the lineup and wore the captain’s armband for the Revolution, after being held out of last Saturday’s game against Philadelphia.
In the preseason, Goncalves publicly expressed discontent about his contract. Before the game, general manager Michael Burns said they had a conversation, along with the coaching staff, and that “we’re all at a much better start and ready to put that behind us.”
Goncalves, who was strong in the game, was happy to be back on the field.
“To be on the pitch is the same like every weekend, and I focus only on my game and that’s it,” Goncalves said. “I train everyday, be a professional and when I’m on the field, give 100 percent. For me, I didn’t see any situations or problems.”