FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Femi Hollinger-Janzen won’t officially get credit for the New England Revolution’s 89th-minute equalizer on Wednesday night, but his presence made the difference as the Revs rescued a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Gillette Stadium.
The rookie – appearing off the bench as a 70th-minute substitute – was on hand to pressure Timbers defender Jermaine Taylor into an own goal after Kelyn Rowe and Je-Vaughn Watson had linked up to put the ball in a dangerous area across the six-yard box.
New England trailed 1-0 to a Jack Barmby strike when Femi was brought on for the final 20 minutes to provide a spark in the attacking third, and according to head coach Jay Heaps, the third-round SuperDraft pick did exactly what was asked of him.
“I thought Femi brought a level of energy that changed the whole thing,” Heaps said of the 22-year-old forward. “It was his energy and his commitment to make our team go forward. I was really happy with that because he’s a young guy. I think guys fed off his energy.”
“Just trying to get a goal there at the end and pushing forward, bringing numbers up,” Femi said of his objectives in the late stages. “I played with confidence and attacked the goal.”
Wednesday night’s appearance was Femi’s fifth off the bench, and his longest stint yet. He totaled just 29 minutes in his first four appearances before getting 20 minutes against the Timbers.
After admitting that his professional debut at Philadelphia on March 20 was a bit of a whirlwind, Femi has settled into his surroundings and finds himself adjusting to life at the MLS level.
“I’m definitely getting more comfortable, more confident as I get out there and play,” Femi said. “I’m more relaxed and I just go out there and play my game.”
It was clear on Wednesday night that the former Indiana star has something to offer the Revolution, as he registered a pair of shots in his first seven minutes on the field and brought the energy level of the entire team up as they pressed for a late equalizer.
And while the wait for that first goal continues, his effort to help force the mistake which led to the eventual equalizer will only fuel him in the future.
“It gives me confidence going forward,” Femi said. “I’m hungry for the next one, for the next opportunity to get a goal there, so next one I’ll make sure I put it away.”