FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution seem to have regained the momentum that carried them to a strong finish last season. A 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo before a Gillette Stadium crowd of 14,725 Saturday improved the team’s unbeaten streak to three games and home winning streak to six games dating to last year.
After a slow start to the season — losses in the opening two games, plus a snowed-out home match — the Revolution produced a breakout 5-2 win over Minnesota United and a resourceful 1-1 tie at Portland before overwhelming the Dynamo after halftime.
The key plays were made as the Revolution (2-2-1, 7 points) capitalized on a second-half tailwind, with Kei Kamara (52nd minute) and Juan Agudelo (72nd) converting, and goalkeeper Cody Cropper making a composed play on a 61st-minute Erick “Cubo” Torres breakaway to seal his first shutout of the season and second of his MLS career.
“The wind was difficult to play in, so first half we were a little out of synch, weren’t moving the ball, the tempo wasn’t great,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “The halftime conversation was, ‘Let’s speed up the tempo, let’s make sure now we have a little wind behind us,’ [because] we knew how hard it was to play out, balls were getting slowed up. So, we wanted to make sure the tempo changed.”
Heaps also made a tactical change, Kelyn Rowe making his first start at left back for the Revolution, signaling the team’s attacking intentions. The Dynamo (3-2-0, 9 points) also played an uptempo style, starting Boniek Garcia at right back and playing a high back line, keyed by central defenders Jalil Anibaba and Adolfo Machado.
In the opening half, Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen drove the Revolution midfield, and Kamara threatened with runs into the penalty area. But neither team produced a major threat until injury time, when Agudelo flicked a header from just outside the top of the penalty area, off an Antonio Delamea chip, past the right post with Tyler Deric out of the goal.
The Revolution came out firing in the second half, Fagundez and Nguyen shooting wide in the opening minutes.
“We wanted to make sure we hit the early ball,” Heaps said. “It was on the first half. And that was something we were hammering them on at halftime. [Assistant coach] Tommy Soehn and I discussed it — it was so clear we needed to play the early ball. They play a high line and so it was good we were able to do it before they adjusted.”
Kamara scored after beating the offside trap, running on to a Nguyen through ball from near the center circle and going in alone on Deric, who blocked the initial shot. Kamara then followed from the right into an open net for his second goal of the season.
“When you get on a break like that, you don’t get many of them,” Kamara said. “So, as a striker, you have one thing in your mind — you have to score.”
The Dynamo had a chance to equalize, but Torres, who had scored six goals in the opening four games, lost control with a long touch and was stopped by Cropper, who also knocked away a 64th-minute Ricardo Clark shot at the left post.
“Obviously, it was a long ball over the top and I chose not to come,” Cropper said. “Some goalkeepers do. Obviously, then, it was just waiting for the right time to come or stay — basically you’re waiting and trying to make him make the decision, trying not to make the decision easy for him by going down earlier.”
Agudelo extended the lead after Deric punched a Rowe cross directly to him in the 72nd minute for his third goal of the season.
The Revolution reverted to a conventional setup in the late going, Je-Vaughn Watson moving to left back, and Rowe to midfield along with Scott Caldwell and Xavier Kouassi.
“I thought Kelyn would get a lot of the ball,” Heaps said. “He adds a lot physically, so he’s going to win his individual battles.”
Last season, the Revolution did not earn their second victory until Game 12 on May 14, and struggled in a 3-3 tie with the Dynamo in the first match. This time, the Revolution controlled the tempo against a Dynamo team that scored 11 goals in its first four games.
“Maybe we were a little lucky when he [Torres] went 1-on-1 with our goalkeeper but luck was on our side,” Delamea said. “But we defended really good and didn’t allow them many chances.”