Saer Sène scored the eighth-fastest goal in MLS history after just 28 seconds and goalkeeper Matt Reis made it stand up with three saves – including the 1,000th of his illustrious career – as the New England Revolution claimed a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon in the 2012 home opener at Gillette Stadium.
It was the first career victory for head coach Jay Heaps after the Revolution (1-2-0, 3 pts.) suffered back-to-back losses on the road to start the season, while it was the sixth straight year the Revs won their home opener. The loss was Portland’s (1-1-1, 4 pts.) first of the season after starting the campaign with one win and one draw.
The absences of Darrius Barnes (L calf strain), John Lozano (R hip flexor strain) and Stephen McCarthy (suspension) forced Shalrie Joseph into emergency center back duty for New England, while the injury-plagued Revs were also without playmaker Benny Feilhaber (L peroneal strain).
Shut out in their first two matches on the road, the Revs wasted little time getting off the mark in their home debut as Sène opened the scoring before many fans had the chance to take their seats. Chris Tierney was afforded room down the left flank and whipped a curling cross into the middle for Sène, who buried a powerful header off the underside of the crossbar less than 30 seconds into the match. It was Sène’s first career MLS goal in just his second appearance.
Stunned by the early goal, Portland quickly went to work on the task of finding an equalizer. The visitors almost found it in the 13th minute when Eric Alexander’s square pass found Diego Chara in the box, but the Colombian’s first-time shot bounced wide of the left post. Burly target man Kris Boyd followed up by twice directing headers wide to the same side.
New England had a golden chance to double its lead before the halftime break when Sène sprang Kelyn Rowe on a breakaway in the 43rd minute. Rowe held off the challenge of a recovering Timbers defender but lost control as he tried to round Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins and the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
The Revs continued to press following the interval and Lee Nguyen forced a quality save from Perkins after weaving through a trio of Timbers defenders in the 56th minute. Six minutes later Boyd was again off target at the other end, sending a free header wide of the right post from eight yards out.
Reis made his 1,000th save count as he became the sixth goalkeeper in MLS history to reach the milestone with a crucial stop on a Franck Songo’o 20-yard drive in the 85th minute.