FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution earned a massive three points on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium with their 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire, solidifying their place above the playoff line at sixth in the East with 38 points.
While Designated Player Gustavo Bou extinguished the Fire with his late, 86th-minute game winner, Wilfried Zahibo played a critical role in putting the Revs in a position to take all three points. The midfielder clipped in a cross from Brandon Bye in the 17th minute to open the scoring, and give the Revs a big, early confidence boost.
“[Zahibo was] good,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “We’ve been trying to get him in the penalty area a little bit more, so that was a great goal for us.”
Arena’s game plan to put Zahibo in a position to finish was echoed by the Frenchman.
“Yeah, he says to me all the way, ‘Get in the box, get in the box,’” said Zahibo. “This is what I did and I scored tonight.”
However, a full 90-minute run was not an easy task for the 26-year-old midfielder. Zahibo has had a personal rollercoaster the past two weeks, as he just recently overcame appendicitis.
“The last two weeks were a little bit crazy, because I spent a lot of time in the hospital, but I’m happy to be back,” said Zahibo. “Now I feel good, and I’m happy to help the team.”
Prior to last Saturday’s match at the New York Red Bulls, Zahibo spent all of Thursday night in the hospital to treat the appendicitis. Following successful treatment, Zahibo arrived back home at 6 a.m. on Friday before jumping on the bus to New Jersey with the team.
To top it off, Zahibo played a full 45 minutes at Red Bull Arena, coming off the bench at the half against the Red Bulls before getting the start this weekend against Chicago.
Zahibo’s first goal of the 2019 season was that much more impactful, given the wild two weeks leading up to this pivotal Eastern game.
“It feels good,” said Zahibo. “It feels good when you’re on the pitch, when the team has a good result. The coach gives me confidence, and this is what it is. I come back and score a goal tonight, and I feel very good.
“It was a massive game. We are in the race of the playoffs, and now is the most important time of the season. We have to start the game with a goal early, and this is what we do. I had the possibility to score from a great assist from Brandon, and I’m very happy for it.”
Zahibo, along with the rest of the Revolution squad, gained confidence with this important win, and will look to carry this momentum into the second leg of their home-stand when they square off against Toronto FC next Saturday.