KENNESAW, Ga. – The circumstances demanded a second-half response from the New England Revolution.
Will Bruin scored twice within three first-half minutes to stake Houston to a 2-0 halftime lead, but the manner of the proceedings caused more consternation than the score line.
For much of the first 45, the Dynamo – and Brad Davis, in particular – located far too much space in the wide areas and maintained possession in the Revolution half.
While New England ultimately fell 3-1 as the two sides traded 89th minute goals to reach the final score line, the Revs did address their concerns and produce the desired second-half improvement, according to Nicol.
“You're hoping that people are offended that we're two-nil down at halftime,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “That's exactly what we asked for: We wanted to find out who is bothered and who is not. I think we got the right reaction.”
A dose of halftime introspection urged New England to cut out some of the mental errors from the first half and push numbers a bit higher into the attack. The addition of three familiar faces in Darrius Barnes, Kenny Mansally and Pat Phelan also helped as the Revs started to get on the ball a bit more and construct some moves going forward.
The boost ultimately led to Zack Schilawski turning in a deflection at the near post with one minute to play, but Alex Dixon poked home a rebound seconds later to cap off the scoring.
“The second half was better,” Nicol said. “Territorially, we were on top. We get a goal, and then we end up losing a goal straight after, which hurts us.”
With the regular-season set to kick off next Sunday at the LA Galaxy, the Revs must take the positives from this defeat and try to implement them over the course of a full match, according to Schilawski.
“That's been kind of the goal of the preseason,” Schilawski said. “We're capable of doing things this year in spurts that we weren't able to do last year. It's just a matter of making sure that all of the guys on the field are concentrating for 90 minutes. There are just too many mental letdowns and things that happen in a split second. Teams are good enough to punish you.”