FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – If ever there was an appropriate time for the New England Revolution to snap out of its recent offensive funk and pick up a much-needed victory, Saturday night fit the bill.
The Revs played their first home game since an emotional two-week period in which Kevin Alston was diagnosed with leukemia and both Matt Reis and Chris Tierney had loved ones injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. The evening began with an emotional pregame ceremony and finished with the Revs claiming a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union, as goals from Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen handed New England its first win since the season opener.
“It’s been an emotional couple of weeks,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “There wasn’t a dry eye on our team (during the pregame ceremony) and I think you saw us come together as a group. We’ve been dealing with some stuff and on top of that we haven’t been hitting our peak performances offensively. It took a lot from our guys tonight and being a coach, I’m really proud of the group and the way they came together.”
For a period it looked like it was going to be another frustrating night for the Revs, who created a bevy of chances throughout the first half but failed to capitalize on their eight shots. Kelyn Rowe fired over the crossbar from inside six yards, while Kalifa Cisse lashed a shot wide from a promising position in the middle of the box.
But the hosts continued to pile on pressure after the interval and the breakthrough finally arrived in the 61st minute when Fagundez finished off a tidy bit of buildup play from Nguyen and Rowe. It took just 10 minutes for the Revs to add another as Nguyen swept home a rebound after Saer Sene’s shot was saved.
“We had a good week of training, moving the ball really well. We needed to start scoring goals,” said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who made four saves to keep the Revolution’s fourth clean sheet of the season. “We were creating chances, but that final pass, that final shot just wasn’t there for us. Finally tonight, I’m sure for everyone, it’s such a relief to see a couple goals go in and to build upon that for next week.”
Next week is actually Thursday night, when the Revs will visit the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. They’ll be back on the training field on Sunday morning as they begin preparing for that trip, but on Saturday night, the Revs were content to soak up a special victory.
“It felt amazing,” said Fagundez. “You saw the stadium – pretty filled up tonight – so getting this win for Boston and for Kevin felt good for everyone. We’re all happy.”