FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- No one would call Saturday's 0-0 draw between the Revolution and Whitecaps a work of art. But, in many respects, it suited the hosts just fine.
Instead of falling into an early deficit and having to search high and low for an equalizer, the Revolution made the most of its defense, which was undoubtedly bolstered by the presence of Jose Goncalves, who returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing last week's match.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "It was difficult to get a ton going on both sides. I thought we did well at times, but it's still coming together a little bit in that final third, and that's always the hardest part early in the year."
While the Revolution may have come up short on the scoreboard for the third straight week, they were able to do something they hadn't done yet this season: Set the tone, and impose their will on their opponent early.
Five minutes into the match, Chris Tierney launched a corner kick into the scrum, where Andy Dorman emerged to glance it on frame before Vancouver goalkeeper David Outsed denied him on a diving save to his right.
New England made another bid for goal in the 33rd minute when Teal Bunbury positioned himself in the path of an Andy O'Brien clearance before the ricochet fell to Diego Fagundez. With space and time to plot his shot, the teenage midfielder was unable to beat Outsed, who collected it well in front of his net.
"All we week, we worked so hard to try to get that last pass," Fagundez said, "to get that last goal, to get that first goal for us. As a team, we did well, but we just didn't finish our last chances."
Fagundez's shot would be one of the few true chances for the Revolution, who put only three of their 17 shots on target. But for all of the attack's shortcomings, the Revolution would quickly find out that, much as they did in the early part of last season, they could rely upon defense to see the game through.
With the task of keeping the likes of Kenny Miller, Darren Mattocks and Pedro Morales off the board, the back four rose to the occasion. Although Miller collected a pair of chances on each side of the interval, he was, for the most part, neutralized by the likes of Andrew Farrell and AJ Soares.
"Having that partnership with Jose, Chris and A.J. -- we knew that was going to jell well," Revolution right back Andrew Farrell said. "We had some good chemistry out there, and it was good that we got the shutout."
Goncalves, who was curiously dropped from the game-day 18 last week, returned to the pitch with a vengeance. The reigning Defender of the Year collected a game-high 13 clearances, and his three interceptions led the way for all Revolution defenders.
"(It felt) good," Goncalves said about being back on the field. "It's the same like every time to be on the pitch. I focused only my game, and that's it."
Meanwhile, the Revolution attack didn't go down without a fight. Shots from Fagundez and Daigo Kobayashi in the latter stages put the Whitecaps on notice, but when it was all said and done, the Revolution walked off the pitch unable to get on the board.
"We just need to break that ice, "Fagundez said. "Not just myself, but everyone as a team needs to break that ice, and (once we do), I think more goals will come."
Not surprisingly, Goncalves, the captain, looked at the broader picture. Although the search for the Revolution's first goal of the season will continue into Week 4, Goncalves believes that Saturday's performance should be viewed in a positive light.
"That's the start (to getting) three points," Goncalves said about posting the clean sheet. "You need to make sure that you don't (concede) any goals before you start taking more points. That's what we did today. It's a good start, and we get our confidence back."