FRISCO, Texas — New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps shook up his lineup for Saturday night’s game at FC Dallas, hoping the change would help jar his team out of its extended slump.
Instead, the result was agonizingly familiar.
Despite five new starters, the Revolution looked much the same, generating little offense while allowing Dallas to get off 24 shots in a 2-0 loss at Toyota Stadium.
The defeat was their seventh in a row — setting a record for the club’s longest losing streak since MLS eliminated the shootout in 2000. The current streak surpasses a six-game skid in 2001. New England had nine-game losing streaks in 1997 and ’98, when shootouts decided tie games.
“We’re at rock bottom right now,” defender Darrius Barnes said. “It’s a when-it-rains-it-pours type thing. This is the low of lows and our team is going to have to show character to pull ourselves out.”
Heaps tried to make that happen by shaking it up after Wednesday’s 5-1 drubbing at Los Angeles. Former Boston College striker Charlie Davies and midfielder Steve Neumann made their first starts of the season, replacing attacking fixtures Diego Fagundez and Patrick Mullins, who have combined for eight goals this season – but none since May 24, the Revolution’s last victory.
For a moment, the changes seemed to ignite something in the Revolution (7-10-2), who began the game swarming on defense and dominating possession, even though they couldn’t seem to get a shot off.
“I think the new guys in the lineup injected some energy and we started really well for the first 10 or 15 minutes, controlled possession, and created a few chances,” Neumann said.
By the 20th minute, though, the possession advantage had all but disappeared. FC Dallas (8-7-5) looked able to get the ball into the New England box at will, firing shots from all angles. Dallas wound up outshooting the Revolution, 11-1, in the first half and 24-9 for the game.
For awhile, the Revolution defense held, thanks to nine blocked shots, including three within seconds of each other during one wild sequence in the 21st minute.
Eventually, the onslaught was too much. The killing blow came after Dallas’s Tesho Akindele broke loose down the right wing and fired a shot that beat New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth but hit the crossbar.
The rebound wound up on the feet of Dallas midfielder Andres Escobar, who was marked closely by Barnes and Teal Bunbury. Escobar shed both defenders with a slick inside move to get to the net, and, as center back Andrew Farrell raced over to help, his chipped shot grazed off the sliding Farrell and over a helpless Shuttleworth for the only goal FC Dallas would need.
“Escobar’s coming in, hits a shot and it’s coming right to me,” Shuttleworth said. “Unfortunately, Andrew makes a great effort and slides, it takes a deflection, hits the ground and because I’m committed to making the save down low — he’s only 6 yards away — it goes over the top of me.
“It’s just been that kind of run for us. We just can’t catch a break right now.”
Dallas added another goal in stoppage time as the Revolution, pressing forward in desperation to tie, were caught by a counterattack, as Akindele blew past Farrell and beat Shuttleworth to the right side.
The Revolution offense, meanwhile, never got going. They managed to compile nine shots and put three on goal, but only one was really threatening, and that came after they’d fallen behind by two goals.
“We had good possession in dangerous areas,” Neumann said. “We just couldn’t seem to get on the end of crosses and through balls. The possession is there and the talent is certainly there. It’s just not clicking right now.”