FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jay Heaps went back to his roots to draw up a win on Saturday night.
Heaps, who famously played on the Duke University basketball team under legendary head coach Mike Kryzyzewski, concocted a clever set piece that ultimately led to Lee Nguyen’s opening goal in a much-needed 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
The name of the set piece: Duke.
“Because it’s got a basketball cut in it,” said Heaps, who was initially reluctant to reveal the “secret name” for the training ground move before quickly relenting. “We’ve run it a couple times. We just felt against the zone, we’d be able to get something like that.”
The design was simple, but crafty. Nguyen touched a short corner to Kelyn Rowe, who played the ball back to Scott Caldwell as he drifted toward the left channel. Caldwell’s first touch was a killer pass into the seam to find Nguyen, who had cut in behind two Fire defenders.
Nguyen’s first touch was to curl a rocket off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net.
“It worked out better than it did in training,” Nguyen said with a laugh. “It’s something we planned. We had a couple of plays and it was one of those where it kind of just set up perfectly for it.”
“We wanted to pull out some defenders,” said Rowe. “Lee saw that we could take them two on two, and then we knew that Scotty would kind of drift over so it would be three on two, and we like our odds with those players. Credit to Scotty and credit to Lee for the run. That ball into Lee wasn’t easy first time.”
Nguyen’s goal – his second of 2016 – gave the Revolution a lead they never relinquished, and rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen’s first professional tally capped the scoring in the late stages.
The victory was New England’s second of the season and snapped a frustrating six-game winless run, so three points were vital regardless of the method in which they were procured. But to secure the points with the help of a set piece goal was a cherry on top for Heaps and the Revs.
“We’ve wanted a set piece goal for a long time,” said Rowe. “We’re glad to have one.”