FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Standing over a 93rd-minute free kick with the game on his foot, his New England Revolution locked in a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in the home opener at Gillette Stadium, Chris Tierney had just one thought on his mind.
“I just figured, knowing it was the last kick of the game, I’m getting it on target,” said Tierney, who revealed that his seniority won out in “a tough negotiation” with Diego Fagundez to determine who’d take the dramatic set piece. “I’m not putting this thing over – I’m going to make him make a save, if nothing else – and we got a lucky bounce, which we deserved.”
Tierney’s match-winning free kick took a fortuitous deflection, to be sure, but there was much more than luck involved in the effort. The 32-year-old left back, who on Saturday became the first field player in Revolution history to feature in 11 different seasons, has spent hours upon hours practicing for just these types of scenarios.
In fact, he spent time preparing for this exact situation earlier in the week.
“We work on [free kicks] all the time,” Tierney said. “It’s something that I’ve always prided myself on, being able to strike the ball. I hit 100 of those this week at practice, so when I got the chance, I liked my chances, I’ll say that.”
Tierney’s teammates like his chances, as well.
“It’s funny; looking back on it, a lot of us have said in the back of our minds, we all had a good thought. We all thought it was going in knowing the two guys on top of the ball at the top of the box,” said Scott Caldwell, who wore the captain’s armband with Claude Dielna suspended. “We were all anticipating that.
“Once it went in, hit the back of the net, you saw the emotions on the field. We were very excited. It was a very important home win.”
Tierney – along with goalkeeper Matt Turner, who saved a second-half penalty in his second career MLS appearance – helped write the headlines with his late winner, but his overall performance in a tough spot was worthy of plaudits on its own.
Called into action in a pinch when Gabriel Somi was forced off with a head injury after 17 minutes, Tierney helped shut down the Rapids.
“Not easy, at all, for any player to have to come on early,” said Brad Friedel, who picked up his first win as a head coach at the professional level. “I thought Chris did a wonderful job. It’s not easy playing against a five-back system. Both of their wingbacks possess a lot of pace, and I thought Chris dealt with that very, very [well].”
But it’ll be Tierney’s free kick that makes the highlight reels, as the Revs claimed a dramatic three points to kick off a stretch in which they’ll play 12 of 18 games at Gillette Stadium.
“Getting three points under your belt early in the season is so important,” said Tierney. “We’ve established a really good home record here over the last few years, and Brad’s emphasized that that’s something we want to continue. We want to make teams feel uncomfortable when they come here.
“I thought on the whole, we deserved to win today.”