New England Soccer Today

A Dynamic Duo

Photo credit: Jeff Bernstein

Photo credit: Jeff Bernstein

The New England Revolution notched a huge 3-1 win over Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC on Saturday. The teams entered the game tied in the Eastern Conference standings at 28 points, but Toronto had four games in-hand — making the game even bigger for New England.

With such a momentous match on the docket, Revolution coach Jay Heaps made a key change to the starting XI by inserting Kelyn Rowe into the starting lineup for Teal Bunbury.

It was Rowe’s first start since Jun. 24, joining Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez in the midfield of the Revolution’s 4-2-3-1 system. The moved reaped immediate rewards for Heaps and the Revolution, as Rowe played a full 90 minutes and padded his season statline by notching his team-leading sixth assist of the season.

“He’s aggressive, he’s hungry, I think that’s the best word for it, he’s hungry, he can read the game,” Heaps said. “We have some designed things for him within the game, within those set pieces but at the same time we also have to be able to read the game. I like that we have options and I think when you work on set pieces you have a guy like Chris Tierney over the ball, you got a guy like Lee Nguyen over the ball, you’re going to get chances to hurt teams and sometimes we have, and sometimes we haven’t. But we want to make sure we’re aggressive there so teams have to worry about defending our free kicks.”

Rowe noted that part of the teams set piece success came from his familiarity with Chris Tierney, who is the primary set piece taker.

“It was one of those, actually Chris drew it up,” Rowe said. “He called me over and said, ‘Hey, look, spin out and I’m gonna find you on the back post and just play it across.’ And he totally Tom Brady’ed it and put it right on my foot.”

With both Rowe and Fagundez rediscovering their form out on the wings, the Revolution midfield has a new dynamic with experience, youth and the ability to interchange positions.

“You just have to get used to it, and see what you can do,” Fagundez said. “They have to try to make all the runs possible and I think we all adapt to the players that we have. We just have such good talent that no matter who’s out there, we’re going to have a great team.”

Heaps noted the change in dynamic with Rowe and Fagundez in the XI together.

“I think first and foremost, I want to comment — Diego had an excellent match,” Heaps said in his postgame press conference. “He really worked hard. In my book, as a coach, he checked every box tonight. He worked tirelessly, and got himself in great position, and for me he did it all. Without getting on the scoresheet, he did so much for our team shape, for our second balls. Just being in the right spot.

“So he and Kelyn, they’re very similar in how they play. They’re very good in possession. They both have the ability to get behind, but they also keep flowing forward. I think they work very well with Lee. And when we add different players in, Teal and Juan (Agudelo) and different looks out wide — it’s where we start. Our shape looks different.”

The Revolution have certainly gotten the most out the Fagundez-Rowe wing tandem in the last two weeks. With the young duo on the field, the squad has scored four goals and only conceded one in the past 110 minutes stretching back to the waning moments of their 2-2 draw at Chicago on Jul. 25.

With Nguyen finding the back of the net on a regular basis again, and Jermaine Jones works his way back to full health, the Revolution could see a similar late-season push to their 2014 season end. After collecting seven of the past possible nine points, the Revolution’s team dynamic has received a big boost.

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