The New England Revolution showed flashes of brilliance in their season opener away at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night, but allowed three goals in the first 23 minutes and ultimately fell 4-0 at Robertson Stadium.
It was the first time the Revolution lost by four since July 2, 2010.
Houston's Will Bruin, who opened the scoring in just the second minute, had two goals and one assist to lead the Dynamo. Additional goals from Boniek Garcia and Omar Cummings solidified the result for the hosts, who only out-shot the Revolution 20-18.
Bruin's first goal came just 69 seconds into the game. He latched onto a cross from Kofi Sarkodie at the top of the box, faked out Jose Goncalves, then spun to his left and volleyed the ball past the outstretched reach of Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Houston's second goal came off a giveaway by Scott Caldwell in the 14th minute, Cory Ashe taking control of possession on the left side of the field and crossing the ball into the box. Bruin slid onto Ashe's feed and doubled Houston's lead easily.
The Revolution struggled to respond and couldn't connect passes in midfield. They were already without starters Lee Nguyen and Andrew Farrell and had to substitute Kevin Alston for Darrius Barnes in the 20th minute for a hamstring strain. That switch only forced the Revolution to adjust more, which took its toll.
In the 23rd minute, Bruin drew three Revolution defenders toward him as he played with possession on the edge of the penalty area. He then faked a run and fed Garcia, who ran onto the pass and sent a blazer into the upper corner of the net past a helpless Shuttleworth.
The Revolution regained some of their usual attacking form after giving up three goals, though nothing came of their more positive play. Barnes had a throw-in that nearly squirted into the goal in the 40th minute, but was ultimately played away for a corner kick. On the ensuing play, AJ Soares flicked a Chris Tierney cross off the right post.
Teal Bunbury, playing as a lone, interchangeable forward with Diego Fagundez and Patrick MUllins, collected a loose ball in the penalty area in the 44th minute and shot a low drive at goal, but had his effort saved from nearly point-blank range by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
New England switched Mullins for Jerry Bengston at halftime, a move that gave the Revolution more space and helped continue the offensive momentum they generated in the late stages of the first half. But no player would be able to capitalize on the offensive tactics.
The Revolution saw a slew of chances go wide. Kelyn Rowe volleyed an over-the-top pass by Fagundez first (56th), Bengston missed an open shot from two yards over the crossbar (68th) and Fagundez clipped the crossbar with a curling shot (82nd).
Shuttleworth, who faced a firing squad of chances by Houston, was hung out to dry by either poor passing or bad defensive positioning. He made five saves, including stops on two breakaways.
Houston was fortunate to get their fourth goal in second half stoppage time, as Cummings shot at goal took a deflection and corkscrewed away from Shuttleworth, who was going in the opposite direction.
The Revolution play at Philadelphia next weekend.
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