FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Lee Nguyen didn’t hesitate when offered a chance at redemption on Saturday night.
After seeing his 57th-minute spot-kick stopped by D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, Nguyen got another crack when he was chopped down inside the box for a second time in the closing stages.
Where some players would’ve wavered and stepped aside, Nguyen stepped up.
“I wanted to take it,” Nguyen said. “I had to redeem myself.”
Redeem himself he did, as Nguyen’s successful second attempt in the 83rd minute lifted the New England Revolution to a vital 2-1 victory over visiting D.C. United and vaulted the Revs back into the playoff places.
It wasn’t just that Nguyen had the nerve to step back to the spot after seeing an earlier attempt saved, but the fashion in which he beat Hamid. After waiting for United’s goalkeeper to move to his right, Nguyen cheekily chipped the ball into the other side of the net to spark a raucous celebration amongst the 19,187 in attendance.
“I knew it was a mind game after that because [Hamid] read the first one,” said Nguyen. “I was thinking about going down the middle after that and it was just great to have the confidence from my teammates and the coaching staff.”
Nguyen’s 83rd-minute penalty conversion completed a second-half comeback for the Revs, who trailed 1-0 at halftime after standout rookie Scott Caldwell was unlucky to turn home an own goal early in the first half. Diego Fagundez leveled the score with his team-leading 11th goal of the season in the 58th minute – moments after Nguyen’s penalty miss – to set the stage for the dramatic late winner.
The victory lifted the Revs from seventh place to fifth place in the East, putting New England into the conference’s final playoff spot with five games remaining in the regular season.
After picking up just one point in their previous three matches, Nguyen knew the importance of taking the full three on Saturday night even as he stepped to the spot.
“We couldn’t dig ourselves into another hole,” he said. “This game was big for us to keep ourselves in the playoff run.”