On a frigid, snowy day that saw very few fans come out to support, the New England Revolution earned their first win on Saturday at Gillette Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1.
San Jose has started out well this season, but the Revolution had yet to score a goal through three games, sporting a shocking -5 goal difference. That streak was broken in the first half as New England dominated in the midfield and kept the ball almost completely in the opposition’s final third.
Due to a high defensive line and constant pressure in the midfield (with particularly strong play from Scott Caldwell), the Revolution had many chances in the first half. The first to capitalize was midfielder Kelyn Rowe in the 21st minute, who blasted a shot on frame following a pass from midfielder Lee Nguyen. Earthquakes keeper David Bingham could do nothing as the ball deflected off of a defender into the net.
The second goal came in the 37th minute, set up by set piece wizard Chris Tierney. The left back whipped a set kick into the box, where Darrius Barnes headed it down only for Rowe to put it in past the keeper again. With a 2-0 lead, the Revs went into the second half confidently.
In the 61st minute, Caldwell got a small piece of Clarence Goodson’s leg on the edge of the box, and the ref called for a penalty kick. Forward Chris Wondolowski slotted it home without any problem, making the score 2-1.
The penalty goal gave the Revolution a reason to continue to press, which they did successfully with nothing to show for it. They put eight shots on goal to the Earthquakes’ 5. Forwards Charlie Davies (finally getting a start in front of Diego Fagundez) and Sean Okoli impressed going toward the goal in the second half only to fall victim to a slick field. The Revs will have to put away more of their chances in their games to come, but the fact that they were creating them was encouraging enough. The match finished 2-1 without much threat from San Jose apart from a late screamer from Wondolowski that keeper Bobby Shuttleworth parried well.
Aside from giving up the penalty, defensive midfielder Scott Caldwell was the star of the game, shutting the Earthquakes down and starting the counter-attack efficiently. While Daigo Kobayashi is playing well alongside Caldwell, Revolution fans are understandably salivating at the thought of a Jermaine Jones-Caldwell holding midfield combination that is coming soon enough. Lee Nguyen is clearly back from his groin injury as he performed well all over the field.
Things are looking up for New England as they look to build on the win next week against the Colorado Rapids.