Unable to capitalize on a myriad of chances in the first half and struggling in the possession department, the New England Revolution turned to their bench.
The resulting moves made by Jay Heaps in the second half paid off in a big way as each of the three players that came on made major contributions to their, 2-1, come-from-behind victory over the Houston Dynamo, in turn locking them in to one of the top three playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference.
“Our subs came in and really impacted the game,” lauded Heaps following the victory.
The Revolution, playing on short rest, used five different starters than they had in their draw versus Montreal last Saturday.
In the first half that unit got plenty of shots off but had two saved, two go wide and four blocked while Houston’s counter over the top resulted in a 37th minute goal from Giles Barnes.
Down 1-0 to start the second half, Heaps was forced into his first sub in the 50th minute after Jermaine Taylor came down hard on defender Andrew Farrell’s right leg as the two went after a ball at mid-field.
Kevin Alston was called on to fill in at right back and did so admirably, looking calm and collected in both hanging back and swinging up in on the attack, something that would pay off in a big way.
Eight minutes later Charlie Davies spelled Patrick Mullins up top and was an instant sparkplug.
In the 63rd minute Heaps used up his final sub, bringing on Jermaine Jones, who had already logged 180 minutes in the prior six days between club and country duties.
“I would have liked to not have to use him,” said Heaps. “The game called for him. In the middle we were getting overrun a little bit. We needed to solidify with Jermaine.”
Just two minutes after the final substitution, Jones linked to Alston who took the ball deep into the box before dishing back to Lee Nguyen for the equalizer.
In the 87th minute the rebound off of a Davies blast that was stopped by defender Kofi Sarkodie on the line set up the game-winner from Nguyen.
“Credit to the guys that came on,” said Nguyen. “Everyone that came off the bench put in a great shift and get credit for all the goals really. All these guys came in and played a big part in the comeback.”