FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Earlier this week, Charlie Davies said that a one-goal lead at home should be enough to secure three points.
On Saturday night, it was enough.
Lee Nguyen scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season early in the second half and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth put together a man-of-the-match performance with four saves – several of the highlight-reel variety – as the New England Revolution claimed a critical 1-0 win over Chivas USA.
The win kept the Revs within touching distance of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and improved the club’s record to 2-1-1 in the last four games, a marked improvement over the eight-game losing streak which plagued the club through June and July.
“It’s been a tough stretch for us the past couple months and these are the types of games where – especially at home – we’ve got to grind it out and get three points,” said Shuttleworth. “We did enough tonight. It definitely wasn’t our best stuff, but it’s three points in the bank and we can look forward to Toronto next week.”
Patience was the name of the game for the Revs on Saturday night. After a statistically dominating first-half performance in which they held the lion’s share of possession without generating any serious threats, head coach Jay Heaps tweaked the approach at halftime to create more width.
The result was Nguyen’s game-winning strike in the 56th minute, when a cross-field pass from Diego Fagundez created space to precipitate Kelyn Rowe and Daigo Kobayashi combining to set up the chance.
From there, preserving the lead was left in the capable hands of Shuttleworth, who came up huge in the 72nd minute when he reached back to pull Erick Torres’ header off the line.
“That save that he made looked a lot easier than it was, but he positioned himself perfectly,” said Heaps. “That save really I think gave us the spark to go for it a little bit more, because you have your keeper, he makes two huge saves and then you want to keep going forward.”
Keep going forward is exactly what the Revs will want to do as they look ahead to next weekend’s trip to Canada, where they’ll visit Toronto FC, a club which sits just three points ahead of the Revs in third place in the East.
“It’s getting a little tight close to the playoffs and every game’s going to count from here on forward,” said Nguyen. “Every point matters.”