FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night was a big win for the squad, but for Revs center back Antonio Delamea, it felt even more important.
The reason is twofold for Delamea, as he started just his second game in the past three months after dealing with injury, and scored his first goal of the 2019 campaign with a powerful header shortly after the halftime break to begin the Revolution's comeback.
When Delamea's header hit the back of the net, it was a huge boost for the team, as he found a much-needed equalizer that set the tone for the second half. However, Delamea later revealed that it was even more meaningful on a personal level.
“I just played today for my uncle,” said the Revs defender. “He passed away on Thursday, and I’m just happy (for the goal). I know he was there with me and that was for him. I wasn’t thinking anything else but him.”
Delamea grasped hold of his opportunity to shine with his uncle watching over him. The 28-year-old had played just one match in the past 13 games prior to this appearance, partially as he was recovering from a head injury. When he stepped onto the field in the starting lineup against the Dynamo, it was his chance to impress, and he did just that.
“I know he hasn’t played a whole lot, but he’s been good in training,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “He’s a very good professional. At some point we wanted to see him play and move him along in training.
“Since I’ve been here, he hasn’t missed a training session, has played well, and at some point we were going to give him a chance and I thought he did very well tonight.”
Delamea’s big moment to shine came when he combined with Revs veteran Diego Fagundez to score on a set piece.
“I told [Diego] I’d be there,” said Delamea. “He just needs to give a good cross and I’ll be there jumping. He delivered a really good ball.
“I was in a duel with the defender, kind of came out as the winner and thank God I scored to help the team. This is the most important. I’m not thinking about myself, I’m thinking about the team. This is a really, really important win for all of us.”
As the Revs took three points on the night, Delamea’s teammates recognize how important this goal was for him, especially given the personal obstacles he has overcome through the beginning of the campaign.
“It was huge,” said Fagundez, who also notched his first assist of the year on the play. “It was bothering him, and I keep telling him that he never puts his head on the ball, so finally today I actually served one and he actually put it (in), so I was very happy for him.
“I think he wanted it and you could see he was hungry after, and he was really a solid defender out there so it definitely gave him a boost. We want to keep seeing that from him.”
Delamea and the Revs will have their next chance to continue the momentum they've built - and extend their six-game unbeaten run - on Thursday, July 4, when they play at the Colorado Rapids.