Another Saturday, another set-piece, another goal conceded. For the New England Revolution, it's becoming something of a tag line, or perhaps a running joke for the 2012 season. On Saturday night, though, the Revs' set piece woes cost two points as the Houston Dynamo fought back twice and forced a 2-2 draw at Gillette Stadium.
"It's one of those things where you go over it, and over it, and over it, and over it, and I'm just disappointed," said head coach Jay Heaps after the game. "I'm flipping mad, if you want to know the truth. I'm flipping mad."
The latest set-piece calamity occurred in the 32nd minute with the Revolution already up 1-0 after Saer Sene converted a penalty to give New England the lead. Brad Davis lined up a free kick from a deep position and dropped it on the head of Will Bruin, who headed into the back of the net with Matt Reis off his line to level the score before the half.
Bruin's goal marked the fifth set-piece goal that the Revs have conceded this season, including three off of free kicks. Despite starting several players over six feet tall, New England appears to have great difficulty maintaining the requisite concentration to track their marks and clear the ball when it is delivered from a dead ball situation.
"I think this is going to be something of a plague for us this year," said midfielder Ryan Guy, who started in place of the injured Clyde Simms. "I'm hoping we can do what it takes to cut it out. That's probably three free kicks from similar positions that we've been scored on, so it's definitely something we're focusing on and trying very hard to cut out."
Still, it looked as though the Revolution had the match in hand in the second half after Sene hit his second goal of the game. Blake Brettschneider put some pressure on Geoff Cameron, forcing him to hold the ball at his feet for a little too long. Sene stole through and nicked the ball off his feet before streaking down fully half the field, taking the ball almost to the byline and then burying it with a left-footed strike over Tally Hall. The goal was Sene's sixth of the season, and he leads the team by a wide margin in that category.
When asked what was going through his mind when he found all that space in front of him, the big Frenchman said: "I kicked the ball and [saw] the space, so I ran to the goal. First, I looked to me right to see if Blake [Brettschneider] was there, he wasn't there, so I took the chance and scored."
The goal would not hold up, however, as the Revs conceded another late goal, this time to Luiz Camargo in the 87th minute. It was enough for honors even to both sides, though the Revs players seemed to feel in the locker room that it was a match they could - and should - have won.
Still, Heaps found positives in the performance, the team's first draw of the 2012 season. "Unfortunately, I don't think we played our absolute best, but we still had a chance to win the game. I thought we did some things well, and some things less well, but all in all I like the way we fought."