Under-used striker Saer Sene tallied his fifth goal of the season for the Revolution, but Will Bruin leveled the score in the 76th minute.
With the result, Houston (12-10-8, 44 pts.) maintained the fourth position in the Eastern Conference. New England (11-11-8, 41 pts.), now in sixth place, only has four games to win a spot in the post-season. Should New England squeak into the playoffs, it will be a short run under the current leadership.
Head coach Jay Heaps can take responsibility for the disappointing result with Houston after again starting Dimitry Imbongo, who last week recklessly disrupted New England's fragile but promising attacking chemistry, led by Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe and Sene. It's the mark of an inexperienced coach who can't manage headstrong players, recognize the team's strengths and shortcomings or use the team's best resources accordingly. Additionally, Heaps only used one substitute, Juan Agudelo, who should have started, while the game on the field was crying out for changes and better management.
Imbongo is a physical player with good technique, but selfish and with little regard for combination play and tactics. Imbongo crashes around the top half on his own, wastes opportunities with other players and instead takes unlikely shots and draws well-deserved red cards for ugly tackles, again costing team results. Imbongo is neither in the Revs' top five in shots or assists, yet Heaps apparently has given him free range in the top half. Instead, Imbongo should be used as the hold-up guy to support Sene, Fagundez, Rowe and Lee Nguyen and pulled off the field if he can't comply and support the team. But Heaps' professional experience is limited to old MLS, which was dominated by physical play, luck and odd officiating decisions rather than tactics and technical skill.
After a scoreless first half punctuated by poor possession and sloppy passes on both sides, Sene found the back of the net in the 64th minute. Fagundez and Rowe combined to play Nguyen into space, who set up Sene, who hooked the ball around Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall for the 1-0 lead. Sene now has five goals and five assists on the season after long recovery from surgery.
It was Nguyen's sixth assist of the season and the technical midfielder is now tied for second on the team in assists with Diego Fagundez, who are both one behind team leader Kelyn Rowe (7). Nguyen also has three goals.
Houston's Bruin responded with a break away goal assisted by Boniek Garcia for the final 1-1 score.
The Revs had several late chances – from Rowe, Juan Agudelo, Fagundez and Nguyen, as they would have had in the first half had Agudelo started in place of Imbongo.
The Revolution returns to action next Saturday, Oct. 5, when the team travels to Red Bull Arena to face the New York Red Bulls. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on TV by Comcast SportsNet.
NE – Saer Sene (Lee Nguyen) 64
HOU – Will Bruin (Boniek Garcia) 76
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Scott Caldwell, Kelyn Rowe, Saer Sene, Dimitry Imbongo (Juan Agudelo 62)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Darrius Barnes, Andy Dorman, Chad Barrett, Charlie Davies, Stephen McCarthy
STATS: Shots 15, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 5, Saves 2, Fouls 6, Offsides 5, Passes 340 (74.7%), Possession 51.2%
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall, Corey Ashe, Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Warren Creavalle (Cam Weaver 73), Ricardo Clark, Boniek Garcia, Brad Davis (Jason Johnson 89), Giles Barnes, Will Bruin
Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala, Omar Cummings, Aleander Lopez, Servando Carrasco, Tyler Deric
STATS: Shots 11, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 5, Saves 2, Fouls 10, Offsides 3, Passes 327 (70.3%), Possession 48.8%
HOU – Brad Davis (caution) 52
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistant Referees: Sean Hurd (AR1), Peter Balciunas (AR2)
Fourth Official: Mathieu Bordeau