Rowe’s late strike makes clean sheet stand up in preseason win over the Fire

TUCSON, Ariz. – Preseason results count for nothing in the MLS standings, but the New England Revolution came out of Wednesday afternoon’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire feeling pretty good nonetheless.

Not only did the Revs keep another clean sheet – their second in three matches at the Desert Diamond Cup – but slick combination play in the final third led to Kelyn Rowe’s game-winning goal in the first minute of stoppage time. After controlling the ball with his back to goal, rookie Patrick Mullins found Rowe streaking through the middle. Rowe then chipped a pass to Diego Fagundez, whose deft return header found Rowe inside the box for the finish.

“I think Patrick Mullins did a very good job of finding space today, turning and combining very well,” said Rowe. “He started that sequence on the goal and found me. Obviously Diego and I have good chemistry from the past couple years, and I think we used it well again today.”

That chemistry has been rekindled in recent weeks as the Revolution’s entire attacking corps – including newcomers Mullins, Teal Bunbury, Daigo Kobayashi and Steve Neumann – has used preseason to learn the group’s tendencies and form a cohesive unit. Based on recent results, it appears to be coming together.

It certainly came together on Wednesday afternoon’s goal, when Rowe’s incisive run and Fagundez’s clever return ball into space opened up the Fire defense for the winner.

“It’s an instinctual play and both players are always moving,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “I thought Teal did a nice job to hold a player off and Patrick Mullins read it well. And Kelyn of course made the play. But the movement between those four was really good.”

An intuitive understanding amongst teammates is precisely what Heaps wants to see only 10 days out from the season opener in Houston. His Revolution side faces just one more preseason test – on Saturday afternoon against the Colorado Rapids at 5:30 p.m. ET – before taking center stage at BBVA Compass Stadium.

“I feel like this next game we’re going to push it like it’s the season opener,” said Darrius Barnes. “This is our last prep game before we start to focus and prepare for Houston. The team’s starting to come together … Everybody’s training like we’re getting close to the beginning of the season and come Houston, I think we’re going to be prepared.”