Winning may be secondary to Revolution coach Jay Heaps at this juncture of the preseason, but that didn’t stop Darrius Barnes from rising to the occasion during the closing moments of Thursday’s scrimmage.
With the score knotted at one apiece, Barnes grabbed the game-winning goal in stoppage time to give the Revolution their first win of the preseason with a 2-1 victory over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Prior to Barnes’ late-game heroics, Dimitry Imbongo extended the Revolution their first measure of success in the 34th minute, while Andy Herron gave the Strikers an early advantage in the 24th minute.
While the Revolution spent the early part of the first half getting acclimated, the Strikers were in no such mood to ease themselves into the match. In the 24th minute, Herron beat an offside trap, took it toward Luis Soffner, who stood helpless before the former Fire midfielder pushed it through.
However, Ft. Lauderdale’s lead wouldn’t enjoy a long and prosperous life. Ten minutes after Herron’s shot nestled itself in New England’s net, Imbongo returned the favor when he buried a Pierre Omanga pass to put the match on level terms.
Proving that the so-called progressions were more important than points, Heaps made wholesale substitutions in the 60th minute. Seven players came on for the final half hour of action, including Patrick Mullins, who was cut down by a studs up challenge by an unidentified Striker player.
The player in question, who minutes earlier knocked Evan Melo out of the match with an elbow to the skull, was issued a second yellow and ejected. Yet, the Strikers continued to field 11 men, per the request of Heaps, who wanted his club test to itself by a full-strength side.
Proof that they were up for such a test came in the 90+1 minute, when Kelyn Rowe sent an outswinger from the corner flag toward A.J. Soares. They fourth-year center back flicked it toward the far post, where it met Barnes’ boot and crashed into the net for the game-winner.
With the win, the Revolution close their stay in Bradenton with a 1-0-2 record. The club will depart for Boston on Friday, and will resume preseason training in Foxborough before departing for Tucson, Ariz. next week for the Desert Diamond Cup tournament.