Special to CSNNE.com
HOUSTON, Texas Defender Hunter Freeman scored the only goal of the game in the 86th minute as the Houston Dynamo defeated the New England Revolution, 1-0, Sunday night at Robertson Stadium.
Freemans goal concluded a bizarre sequence in which Cam Weavers initial header struck the crossbar and bounced straight up into the air and fell directly on the goal line, where Freeman was on hand to bundle the ball into the net. It ruined an otherwise stellar night for Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, who made seven saves upon his return to the lineup.
The victory helped the Dynamo (2-1-2, 8 points) leapfrog the Revolution (1-2-3, 6 pts.) into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference. It was the Revs second straight shutout loss after suffering their first setback of the season last weekend against Real Salt Lake.
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph and central midfield partner Pat Phelan were unavailable while serving one-game suspensions for red cards received last weekend against RSL, while left back Didier Domi (left hamstring strain) missed out because of injury. Meanwhile, Reis resumed his starting duties after missing two games because of a right adductor strain, while rookie A.J. Soares returned from suspension to partner Franco Coria in central defense.
In response to the circumstances, coach Steve Nicol trotted out a makeshift 4-3-3 lineup at Robertson Stadium. Usual center back Darrius Barnes started at left back, the versatile Chris Tierney partnered Stephen McCarthy and Zak Boggs in midfield, and Danish forward Rajko Lekic made his MLS debut alongside Marko Perovic and Zack Schilawski.
Houston almost opened the scoring in just the fourth minute, with the Dynamos attack predictably running through Brad Davis down the left wing. Davis took a powerful long-range shot which Reis saved, but the rebound spilled to Will Bruin 12 yards from goal. The rookies low effort beat Reis, but Soares was positioned on the line to make a lunging clearance.
Bruin threatened again in the 12th minute when he wriggled free to meet Davis corner kick, but he directed his header over the bar from six yards out. Five minutes later the former Indiana forward was at it again, pushing another header wide from close range after Weavers left-wing cross.
The pressure continued to mount and Reis was called upon to make a fine reaction save on Bobby Boswells free header in the 22nd minute.
After weathering the early storm Houston fired 13 shots in the opening 45 minutes the Revs slowly worked themselves into the action as the game progressed, eventually reaching the halftime break scoreless.
But just as the hosts pressed early in the first half, they did so again in the early stages of the second half. Boswell threatened twice in the 57th and 58th minutes, first seeing his rolling effort cleared off the line by Schilawski although Dynamo players claimed the ball crossed the line before hitting the right post just one minute later.
Bruin continued his quest for a goal when he was put through in the 73rd minute, but Reis charged off his line to make a leg save.
Coria almost caught Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall napping in the 76th minute, but his audacious effort from well inside his own half drifted harmlessly over the bar.
Houston finally made the breakthrough with less than five minutes remaining. Davis corner kick was met well by Weaver, whose header ricocheted off the crossbar and high into the air. As the ball came down, Freeman jostled with Reis and eventually pushed the ball over the line to hand the Dynamo all three points.
The Revs will host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, April 23 at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m.