Captain Jose Goncalves scored the game winner and played a huge role in keeping the clean sheet, as the New England Revolution managed a vital 1-0 win in Canada over the Montreal Impact.
After a pair of missed chances by Juan Agudelo in the 31st minute, Goncalves cleaned up the mess with a powerful close range shot to give the Revolution the lead. While New England was unable to take advantage of their subsequent opportunities to add to the lead, Goncalves led the defense to their thirteenth shutout of the season to secure the win.
The win puts New England (12-11-9, 45 points) temporarily into the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, one point behind fourth place Montreal (13-11-7, 46 points). The Philadelphia Union (12-10-9, 45 points) and Chicago Fire (12-12-7, 43 points) play at D.C. United and at F.C. Dallas, respectively, later on Saturday and could overtake the Revolution with positive results.
Head coach Jay Heaps kept an unchanged line-up from the side that drew 2-2 at the New York Red Bulls last weekend and while New England didn’t get off to the disastrous start they had in New York, neither team looked much of a threat in the early going. Still, the Revolution came close in the 10th minute after finding Lee Nguyen on a short corner. Nguyen blasted a long shot on frame from the left flank, but it was tipped wide by goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
The Revolution had another chance in the 15th minute after Scott Caldwell found Nguyen at the top of the box. Nguyen dribbled into the box past a pair of defenders, before getting tangled up. The ball fell to Agudelo, who turned to shot, but his shot was deflected and easily saved by Perkins.
New England then suffered a blow in the 20th minute, when Saer Sene suffered an apparently severe ankle injury from a challenge in the box by Davy Arnaud. Sene was stretchered off the field and replaced by Dimitry Imbongo.
The visitors found the breakthrough in the 31st minute after some dangerous service from a Chris Tierney free kick on the right flank. Tierney’s service found Agudelo, but the 20-year-old striker mishit his header and the ball rolled to the right flank. Fagundez sent a low cross back into the box where Agudelo, in position for an easy tap-in, missed the ball. Fortunately for the Revolution, the ball fell to Goncalves, who blasted it in from close range to make it 1-0.
Montreal had their best chance of the half in the 41st minute after Matteo Ferrari picked the ball off the feet off Caldwell and drove towards goal. Ferrari slipped a ball through to Marco Di Vaio, but goalkeeper Matt Reis rushed off his line to narrow the angle and made the save.
New England threatened again early in the second half after a deflected Fagundez shot went wide for a corner. The ball eventually fell to Goncalves outside of the box, who launched a long range shot on frame that Perkins could only tip high.
Tierney nearly made it 2-0 in the 69th minute, when Ngueyn earned a dangerous free kick just outside the box. Tierney curled the set piece around the wall, but it was denied by crossbar.
Three minutes later it was the Impact on the attack, but Alessandro Nesta directed his header off a corner just wide of the frame after getting free of the defense.
But the Revolution were back down the other end in the 75th minute, when Tierney found acres of space on the left flank and sent in a great cross to Fagundez at the near post. Fagundez’s glancing header rolled wide of the target.
The Revolution were able to overcome an injury to Imbongo and five minutes of second half stoppage time to hang on for the vital three points.
New England finishes off their season with two matches against the Columbus Crew, first facing the Crew on Saturday, October 19th, at 7:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution then travel to Columbus for a game on Sunday, October 27th, at 4:00 p.m. at Crew Stadium.