Revolution earn draw in season opener
HOUSTON — Midfielder Daigo Kobayashi’s equalizer on a powerful header in stoppage time salvaged a 3-3 draw for the New England Revolution against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in their MLS season opener Sunday.
The Revolution scored in the third minute, and, amazingly, in the 93rd minute.
“Once they went up 3-2, the resilience we showed to come back and fight to get a point is impressive and something we can build from,” said Charlie Davies, who leveled the score at 2 in the 52d minute.
The game seemed lost for the Revolution with precious time clicking off in the third minute of stoppage time after Giles Barnes restored the lead for the Dynamo in the 77th minute.
Delivering in the clutch, Kobayashi, who was an 84th-minute substitute, brought home Diego Fagundez’s cross past goalkeeper Joe Willis. Kobayashi’s goal stunned the Dynamo and stole a point for the Revolution, who received a goal and two assists from Fagundez.
“I liked our belief and we fought to the last whistle and were able to get a point,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “We fought to the end. We were able to fight until the last minute of the game, and Diego and Daigo worked a little magic.”
New England has added some grit to this season’s roster, including Je-Vaughn Watson and Gershon Koffie. Their play allows Fagundez, Kobayashi, Scotty Caldwell, and Lee Nguyen to change the game. And that’s what happened Sunday.
The Revolution played well in the game’s first 15 minutes — including Fagundez’s score in the third minute — but Heaps was disappointed in how the Revolution played in the first half. Especially when there was a miscommunication between New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and Jose Goncalves that allowed Cristian Maidana to pull the Dynamo level at 1-1 in first-half stoppage time.
“The goal right before the half was a dagger,” Heaps said. “That one hurt.”
Added Nguyen: “It was unfortunate we had to give one up at halftime. That was a tough blow. We didn’t give up, we kept fighting to the end. Right until the stoppage time.
“To get three goals and not be able to get a win, that’s tough. But it’s a good point, going on the road. We’ll take this experience going into our next game.”
New England’s subs had an impact in the game. Caldwell came in for Kelyn Rowe (45th minute). Juan Agudelo came in and added a lift, subbing for Teal Bunbury (68th minute) and Kobayashi had the late goal, subbing for Koffie.
Fagundez’s goal in the third minute energized New England, which was 14-12-8 with 50 points in 2015. Fagundez scored from off a shot just outside the box. Fagundez picked up a loose ball 25 yards from goal, took one touch with his chest, and hammered a shot inside the right post. The shot beat Willis, who started in place of regular Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who did not play because of a right abdominal strain.
“Once I took a touch, the first thing I thought of was take a shot,” Fagundez said. “I took the shot and saw the ball going in. It felt good. When you finish it, it’s great.”
Fagundez took advantage of an out-of-place Dynamo midfield for the quick score. However, it was wasn’t the franchise’s fastest goal to open a season. Giovanni Savarese scored in the first minute in 1999 versus Miami.
“Diego did a nice job of reading the play and getting a good second ball,” Heaps said. “Diego can get balls. He’s a guy that can that can put it in from distance. But we want more from him.”
After Andrew Wenger gave Houston a 2-1 advantage in the 50th minute, Davies answered. He had his first shot saved by Willis, but Davies followed the rebound. Fagundez slipped Davies in on goal.
“I was disappointed with the first shot, but the second one came back to me and I said I cannot miss this one,” Davies said. “I was fortunate enough to put it back in the net.”
Sunday’s match is the only meeting this season between the two clubs. Since the Dynamo’s expansion season in 2006, the Revolution are 6-3-2 playing in Houston. New England won 2-1 over the Dynamo in preseason in Desert Diamond Cup play on Feb. 24.
A draw isn’t what the Revolution wanted prior to Sunday’s game. But considering their situation late in the game, leaving Houston with a point has some reward.
“For us to start out with a point on the road in a difficult environment, I wouldn’t say we’re thrilled, but we’re happy that we were able to get the point,” Heaps said.
Added Nguyen: “Now, we’re going home with a point. When it looked like we weren’t coming home with anything.”