(Editor’s note: With the end of the calendar year upon us, New England Soccer Today is taking a look back at the most memorable moments of 2012. In this edition, Brian O’Connell reviews the top five New England Revolution moments)
Twenty-twelve was a season of change across the board for the Revolution. From a new coach to a revamped roster, few knew what to expect from the new-look Revolution.
Although they missed the postseason, there’s little doubt that the club began to lay the foundation for future runs. From Saer Sene’s 11-goals to the emergence of waiver wire pick Lee Nguyen to the solid season Kelyn Rowe put in, the tell-tale signs of improvement were unmistakable.
So, let’s look back at the top 5 memorable moments of the 2012 season.
5. Three points served with a side of payback. In the early going of their May 12 match vs. Vancouver, it certainly didn’t look like the Revolution were on their way to a convincing win. Eric Hassli scored only five minutes in, but the hosts responded. Four times. Lee Nguyen scored against his former team a minute later, while Saer Sene and Shalrie Joseph helped make it a 3-1 game before halftime. The icing on the cake came in the 72nd minute, when Nguyen scored a long-distance goal that froze Joe Cannon on the line. Although Ngyuen said afterward that he harbored no ill will towards his former teammates, it was clear that the former Whitecap couldn’t have chosen a better time to have his best game of the season.
4. Beating the champs on the road. Back on Mar. 31, the defending champion Galaxy looked very much like a team nursing a severe hangover. Nevertheless, the Revolution weren’t about to show the downtrodden squad any mercy. Rookie Kelyn Rowe scored his debut goal in the 10th minute, and from there, the result was never in question. Chris Tierney added another three minutes later while Saer Sene scored in the 65th to mount an incredible 3-0 advantage at the home of the champions. Robbie Keane scored late to erase any hopes of a clean sheet, but the Revolution still walked away with one of their most impressive road victories in recent memory.
3. Bobby Shuttleworth stops the Red Bulls. Jay Heaps raised a number of eyebrows in advance of the club’s Jul. 8 showdown with the Red Bulls when he penciled in second-stringer Bobby Shuttleworth at goalkeeper. Nevermind that Shuttleworth hadn’t started all season. Or the fact that Matt Reis was healthy and, presumably, ready to go. Heaps went with his gut, and Shuttleworth proved quite capable. Though he was rarely tested (thanks, in due part, to Thierry Henry’s unavailability), Shuttleworth looked solid between the sticks, and helped bring the club within a game of .500.
2. Bengtson signed as Designated Player. Although Saer Senegave the Revolution their first true scoring threat since Taylor Twellman, Jay Heaps still wanted to see more from his attack. So the club went out and signed Honduran striker Jerry Bengtson, a 25-year-0ld whom Steve Nicol initially targeted two years prior. Showing that money wasn’t an issue, the club reached deep into its pockets, and made Bengtson the third designated player in club history. On the international level, Bengtson shined, and scored for his native Honduras in the Olympics and World Cup Qualifying. On the club level, he scored in his MLS debut against New York. Although his international success didn’t translate immediately to MLS, the forward’s ability to work well with Sene and also as a lone striker has set the stage for a strong 2013.
1. 94th minute’s a charm. They weren’t wins, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a supporter that wasn’t excited about the club’s prospects following consecutive last-minute draws at Toronto (Jun. 23) and vs. Seattle (Jun. 30). In Toronto, the last-place Reds jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead, leaving the visitors in a state of shock. Even though Blake Brettschneider came off the bench to score in the 71st minute, it looked very much like Toronto win in the final minute of injury time. That was until Chris Tierney nodded Flo Lechner’s cross into the net at the 94th minute to secure a valuable road point. A week later, the Revolution went on board first, only to surrender a pair of Eddie Johnson goals in the first half. Once again, the final minute stoppage proved to be the charm, as Diego Fagundez headed home the game-tying goal in the 94th minute.