NEW YORK – Xavier Kouassi had just 23 minutes to put his stamp on the New England Revolution’s 2-2 draw with New York City FC on Wednesday night, and it’s safe to say he did exactly that.
A 67th-minute substitute with the Revs trailing the hosts, 2-1, Kouassi made an instant impact by bringing a dose of energy and his trademark toughness, and he capped a lively performance with a dramatic late equalizer, his first goal in Major League Soccer.
“He was fantastic when he came on,” said goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who made his first start of the season at Yankee Stadium. “He really gave us a spark and changed the game. He got the tying goal there at the end, and it really shows how much presence he has when he comes in and is in the middle of the park for us.”
“He came in and instantly added a great impact,” head coach Jay Heaps said of Kouassi. “He brought some good fight, some good possession, some good wins in midfield. You saw us go for an uptick once he got in there.”
Kouassi’s influence was felt well before his equalizer, but his impact on the match was cemented when he drifted to the back post to head home Kelyn Rowe’s brilliant service in the 86th minute.
Rowe took two touches before lashing a perfectly-placed cross out of mid-air.
“I knew that we had a bunch of guys in the box,” said Rowe. “I was just trying to get my touch right and put the ball to the back post.”
Kouassi’s teammates mobbed him after the goal, but the 27-year-old midfielder wasn’t able to celebrate much as he had already been hobbled by an injury in the previous minutes.
That leaves Kouassi’s status for this weekend’s meeting with league-leading Toronto FC up in the air – “We’re nervous about the injury a little bit,” Heaps said – but after closing out their six-day, two-game road trip with a positive result, the Revs will head back to Foxborough with some wind in their sails.
“The spirits are high now,” said Knighton. “We’ve been in New York for [six] days now, and for us to pick up a point here (is huge).
“We’re looking to maximize points at home. It’s a quick turnaround. We’ll get guys rested and it’s going to be a big one on Saturday night. Hopefully we can get a lot of people out to Gillette and put on a good performance for them.”