Healthy dose of character helps Revs snap winless run

Head coach Jay Heaps lauds his side’s “heart” in slump-busting win over the Crew

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A collective sigh of relief was released from the New England Revolution bench and the 11 players on the field when referee Geoff Gamble blew the final whistle to make Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew official.

It was the Revolution’s first win in almost two months – since a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on July 8 – and it snapped a club-record 10-game winless run which had been a major talking point in recent weeks.

“It’s a monkey off our back,” admitted Chris Tierney, who came off the bench to make his 100th career MLS appearance. “It was up to nine or 10 winless and that was definitely weighing us down. We know we’re a better team than that and we’re capable of being much higher up in the table and picking up more points than we have thus far. It feels good to prove yourself against a good side in Columbus.”

The Revs had been close in recent weeks, building leads against both Columbus and Chivas USA only to see those leads disappear into a string of frustrating results. That frustration was on the cusp of emerging once again on Wednesday night when the Revs outshot the Crew 6-0 in the first half only for Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to make a series of fantastic saves.

But New England continued to press and ultimately made the breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Diego Fagundez’s industriousness created an opportunity for Dimitry Imbongo to open his MLS account. The Revs eventually doubled their advantage in the 74th minute when Crew captain Chad Marshall headed into his own net.

“Even in the first half when Gruenebaum had some unbelievable saves and made some good plays, it felt like, ‘Was our luck going to be there?’ Who knows,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. That’s what we preached throughout the year.

“I think there wasn’t much more than a lot of guys playing with a lot of heart and knowing it’s not easy to go out there on the run we’ve been on and the luck that hasn’t gone our way. I was really happy for the way the guys showed up tonight.”

The Revs will now have an extended period to regroup after a hectic stretch in which they played four games in 12 days, as they won’t return to action until Sept. 15 when they visit D.C. United. Heading into the mini-break on a positive note is a massive bonus.

“I think the rest will be much appreciated by everyone and we get back in here, work hard and get ready for D.C.,” said Darrius Barnes. “That’ll be a tall task, going against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. But hopefully these last six or seven games we can show what we’re made of, have some pride and just see what happens. I know our backs are against the wall but we’ll see what happens.”