New-look Revolution visit Dynamo (Mar 29, 2018)

March 29, 2018

The Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution head into Saturday's match at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston off draws that they believe could have been victories.

The fact that the two sides were disappointed about earning one point rather than three is an indication of the determination the teams will bring to the pitch when they play in Texas for the first time in two seasons.

The Dynamo and the Revolution both have forged 1-1-1 records in their first three matches, a result that Houston, the defending Western Conference finalist, is having a harder time swallowing than New England.

Houston was forced to settle for 2-2 draw with D.C. United on March 17 when it gave up a goal in the 97th minute. It was a match that the Dynamo, who have had very almost no success on the road over the past season and three games, thought they had in hand.

Two first-half goals created by the hustle of forward Alberth Elis put the Dynamo out to an early lead, but D.C. United rallied in the second half.

Houston's tallies were recorded in a span of less than two minutes midway through the first half but it was a third scoring opportunity that Elis failed to convert in the 68th minute that stuck in the Dynamo's craw even more than the eventual draw.

"It's a draw that feels like a loss," Elis said through an interpreter. "We knew it was going to be tough. We knew the weather was going to be a challenge and we were at a field that neither they or us were fully comfortable. We need to keep moving forward."

Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera said he loves the work Elis has done in the early going but expects even more from the 22-year-old Honduran national.

"He needs to be stronger with his finishing," Cabrera said about Elis. "Today, he (should have) had the third goal. If he grows with that he's going to be extremely, extremely good. The way the game developed, we have to take the three points. We gave life to a team that was struggling."

New England made wholesale changes after finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference last season and failing to make the playoffs, including the hiring of former U.S. national team star Brad Friedel as coach.

In the early part of the 2018 campaign, Friedel has begun to implement a tactical philosophy rooted in top-level fitness, high pressure, and a relentless, tireless attack from front to back, and it's starting to take a foothold as seen in the Revolution's 2-2 home draw versus New York City FC last Saturday.

"We did everything in the first half except score the multiple goals that I think we deserved," said Friedel, who added that his staff has installed "probably 70-to-80-percent" of the style they ultimately want to play.

"Now that we've gotten over the hump with the fitness and (the players) knowing what our philosophy is, we can now go game-to-game on how we're going to go tactically against each opponent."

Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner said the positive showing with NYCFC will serve as inspiration as they move deeper into the season.

"Our confidence is growing every week, and I think you saw that on (against NYCFC)," Turner said. "As we start to grow and continue to get more comfortable with each other -- because we have a lot of new players -- the chances will start coming, and then we'll lock it down in the back."

New England is unbeaten in its past five regular-season meetings with the Dynamo, going 4-0-1 since April 2014. The Revolution have enjoyed plenty of success on the road in Houston, going 6-3-2 all-time, including 2-1-1 in their last four visits to BBVA Compass Stadium with a 3-3 draw in their most recent match there in March 2016.