FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It didn’t have the flash or flourish of last weekend’s 4-0 win over Orlando City SC, but Saturday night’s hard-fought 1-0 triumph over the Montreal Impact was just as critical in the New England Revolution’s postseason push.
The win – New England’s fifth straight at Gillette Stadium, the last four by shutout – pulled the Revs to within one point of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of a critical two-game road trip through Atlanta and Kansas City next week.
“That’s what it’s going to take,” Lee Nguyen said of the Revs’ 90-minute effort. “We’re just trying to get above the red line. We know that. Montreal’s a good team. They gave us a good battle, but we needed the three points and the guys fought through and luckily we were able to get that goal.”
It was Nguyen who made the breakthrough in the 68th minute, taking a short pass from Teal Bunbury, fighting through a pair of challenges and firing home at the near post from 12 yards.
“Teal did a great job trying to find me twice,” said Nguyen, who also noted a favorable bounce off an Impact defender in the buildup. “It just fell through for me and I was in the spot to finish.”
From there the onus fell on the hosts to keep yet another clean sheet, which they did courtesy of a team-wide commitment to the task at hand and a timely save or two from goalkeeper Cody Cropper.
“(We’re) doing the simple things right,” said Cropper. “We’ve really locked down the back four. I think (Xavier) Kouassi and Gershon (Koffie) have been huge for us in realizing certain situations when we need to defend and when they can go forward.”
Cropper also had praise for the center back pairing of Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna, who’ve forged an immediate bond in the middle of the Revs’ backline. Benjamin Angoua was strong as he shifted to right back, while Chris Tierney was part of a second straight shutout on the left side.
Players and coaches weren’t in the mood to celebrate Saturday night’s win, however, as head coach Jay Heaps had his squad mentally moving on to their midweek visit to Atlanta United FC, currently one point ahead of the Revs in the final playoff spot.
“That’s been the talk in the locker room,” said Heaps. “This game is over. We knew we had to win it. We did that. We fought hard, and now everything’s on to Atlanta.”