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Drilling down on: at New England 1, Portland 0

Mar 24, 2012, 6:44 PM EDT

New England Revolution v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

Man of the match: Winless in two games, the Revolution badly needed some early success to blow up their balloon of confidence. New Revs’ striker Saer Sène provided the very antidote around Gillette Stadium, striking on a glancing header just 28 seconds in Saturday. Portland had plenty of chances, but couldn’t do what Sene did so early and efficiently for the home side.

Packaged for take away:

  • A crowd of 13,000-plus for a home opener? Things aren’t getting any better for the Revs’ front office, which is still running “MLS 1.0” in too many areas.
  • The supporters who did show for Saturday’s 1-0 win saw some very encouraging signs. Midfielder Kelyn Rowe, the first-round draft pick out of UCLA, is starting to follow up on a promising preseason with bright nights in the regular season. And Lee Nguyen showed some of his nifty dribbling moves along the left. He can be a real factor in the league if he adjusts his game (which sometimes looks like soccer’s version of hoops’ street-ball) to the extra-physical MLS defending.
  • What club wouldn’t love to have Shalrie Joseph? Even if the longtime midfield enforcer around Gillette was a little slow to get going in 2012, he’s still one of the league’s top utility knifes. Playing as an emergency center back on Saturday, he was big and strong all evening on Kris Boyd, the Timbers’ DP striker. In fact, the two locked up in some great battles. Remember, this is a guy who can and has played at striker for the Revs … and surely remains one of the league’s premier holding midfielders, his natural spot.
  • On a couple of instances inside the Revolution penalty area, Joseph did no less than Geoff Cameron did last night to Patrick Ianni on the instance that earned a Sounders’ penalty kick. Still, “you play the game you’re in,” as coaches like to tell players, and in this one it wasn’t a penalty kick.
  • Portland’s attack will get goals this year, but there are still problems along the outside in defense. Most preseason assessments called left back Rodney Wallace and right back Lovel Palmer the weak links going into 2012, and neither has done much to change anyone’s mind. Neither will remember a Saturday as Gillette Stadium as anything shout about.
  • Jay Heaps, the second-youngest MLS coach (and not by much), recorded his first win as man in charge. That’s gotta mean a lot to the longtime Revolution defender, who took the top spot this year with full knowledge that a learning curve would be ahead. In fact, everyone can see that. But patience runs out fast, and nobody wants to hear about learning curves when it starts getting really hot in the kitchen. And 0-3 (where the Revs would have been if they had lost Saturday) would already be a mighty hot kitchen. Bottom line: it doesn’t matter that it was a close one, with some steady goalkeeping required of Matt Reis at the end. The Revs had to have this one.

Here’s the Rev’s early goal.

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