FOXBOROUGH — As Lee Nguyen’s shot from just outside the box whistled well over the crossbar in the waning seconds of the Revolution’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas, a collective groan rose from the crowd of 10,284 at Gillette Stadium.
The reaction to Nguyen’s shot had little to do with the midfielder and plenty to do with the Revolution’s inability to score this season. It’s now been 298 minutes of play since New England (1-2-1) scored its lone goal of the season.
“It’s disappointing,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “[Finishing is] something we do a lot of [work on] in practice. Maybe we do it too much, but we work on those things and you want to get yourself in a place to finish. I thought tonight we had chances to score and we didn’t.
“Right now our play is a little bit out of synch with where our runs are and we’ve just got to continue to get better every week.”
In an effort to ramp up the attack, the Revolution switched from a 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 to begin the game, inserting 18-year-old Diego Fagundez at forward, alongside Jerry Bengtson. They also started midfielder Ryan Guy for the first time this season.
Fagundez and Bengtson had quality scoring chances, but both walked away empty-handed and frustrated.
“I think we’re all trying so hard to get 3 points and to get goals,” said Fagundez, who was on the field for 85 minutes after not playing in last weekend’s 0-0 tie with Sporting Kansas City in the home opener. “We’re trying everything we can. We’re crossing. We’re trying to get it in the box. We just can’t [score].
“Someone needs to step up and try scoring a goal and I think once we get it, we’ll be all set.”
For the second time in five days, Bengtson had to watch as Blas Perez netted a heartbreaking goal against his team. It was Perez who netted an insurance goal for Panama against Bengtson’s Honduran national team on Tuesday in World Cup qualifying play, and it was Perez on Saturday scoring in the 87th minute with a well-placed header.
Perez, who came in for Kenny Cooper in the 64th minute, was set up by David Ferreira for the Western Conference leaders (4-1-0).
“Perez got up and headed it across and put it in a good spot,” said Revolution goalie Bobby Shuttleworth, “probably the only spot where I couldn’t have saved it.
“I thought we had a lot of good chances in the second half and had the better of the play,’’ continued Shuttleworth, “but it’s not a good enough effort from all of us at home.”
The Revolution left Heaps frustrated with their play in the first half, registering just one shot (by Fagundez). They caught a huge break in the 15th minute when Cooper sent a bouncing cross to the back post that went right between the legs of Jackson, who had nothing but wide-open net in front of him.
New England turned in a much stronger performance in the second half, registering eight shots (four of which were on target), but couldn’t get a ball past Raul Fernandez (five saves).
The Revolution’s best chance came in the 57th minute after a handball led to a free kick from just outside the box for Juan Toja. The midfielder’s attempt found Dallas’s wall, but Toja followed his shot and found Bengtson with a looping pass. Bengtson got his head on it, and it took a last-second swipe by Fernandez to deflect the ball over the net.
“I think that in the first half there wasn’t enough movement, there wasn’t enough playing the ball quickly,” said Heaps. “A lot of what we had worked on all week [in practice] just seemed to go away.
“In the second half, that was more our group, but unfortunately you need 90 minutes to unlock a team and we only came to play for 45 minutes [Saturday].”
The Revolution will have time to stew before traveling to Seattle to take on the Sounders on April 13.