New England Soccer Today

Fagundez Strike Gives Revs Win

Diego Fagundez scored the lone goal on Saturday night. (Photo: Walter Silva)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Diego Fagundez’s 17th minute strike proved all the New England Revolution needed to emerge victorious in their home finale on Saturday night, defeating Chicago Fire, 1-0, in front of 25,534 fans at Gillette Stadium.

With injuries piling up, the Revolution, were forced to put together a make shift line-up. The backline remained the same as the 1-0 loss to Philadelphia, but with Benny Feilhaber suspended, the midfield featured the debut of Blair Gavin and saw Diego Fagundez pushed back into the midfield from his normal striker position, while Dimitry Imbongo got the start up top alongside Jerry Bengtson.

The changes should seemingly have put the Revolution (8-17-9, 32 points) — long ago eliminated from the playoffs — on the back foot against a Chicago Fire (17-11-5, 56 points) side still gunning for the number one seed in the East heading into the match. Instead, the Revolution shutdown the Fire attack and grabbed a goal through a bit of magic from Fagundez to get the win.

“I thought we came out, you could see we came out with some fire and some good energy,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “That’s how we needed to start the game. For me, we’re going to get chances and we had a couple of chances – not as many as we’d like – but what I really saw was us closing the ball down. When it came into our half, it was personal defensively.”

In what was largely a midfield battle, the teams had just one shot a piece on net, but the Revolution made the most of their lone strike on target. After an opening 17 minutes devoid of any chances, Fagundez scored the game’s lone goal, creating something from nothing after getting the ball about 40 yards out from goal from Kelyn Rowe. Fagundez dribbled forward about fifteen yards before blasting a low shot that beat Sean Johnson just inside the far post.

“Everyone was playing well,” said Fagundez. “We were just moving the ball and Kelyn (Rowe) just played it through the middle and I was just making a good run. Once I got to the top of 18, I was trying to pass but nobody was open so I saw the back post and took that shot and it went in.”

New England had a chance to add to their lead in the 33rd minute after Imbongo did some nice hold-up work in the left corner and then sent a pass back to Kevin Alston. Alston played it to Jerry Bengtson, who sent it back to Alston in the box, but the Revolution defender sent his left footed shot high of the net.

Surprisingly for a match where the Revolution had nothing to play for and the Fire had playoff seeding on the line in a tight Eastern Conference, those were the only two legitimate chances of the half.

The second 45 got off to a similar start, with neither team testing the opposition’s keeper.

Finally New England had another chance and Rowe probably should have done better in the 69th minute after a long Chris Tierney free kick found him at the far post, but the rookie sent his shot far high of the net.

Two minutes later it was the Fire with a chance as Gonzalo Segares broke free in the box, but his shot was well off target.

The Fire finally tested Bobby Shuttleworth in the 86th minute when an Alvaro Fernandez cross found Patrick Nyarko in the left side of the box. Nyarko volleyed a shot towards goal, but his effort bounced off the turf and made for an easy save by Shuttleworth.

“We had a great game plan coming in and I thought we did a great job of keeping the tight lines and keeping the guys compact,” said Shuttleworth. “I thought Clyde (Simms), Blair (Gavin) and Kelyn (Rowe) did a great job of kind of doubling down when they were trying to play those penetrating balls coming forward. I thought we did a really good job of focusing on those two guys up top and not allowing them to get the space, and (Chris) Rolfe to get the space and turn because that’s where they give you trouble. We kind of harped on that all week and that was our game plan and we did well to do that.”

The Revolution should have scored a second in stoppage time to cap the victory after substitute Juan Toja sprung Fagundez free down the right flank. Fagundez ran into the box and sent a pass across goal to Bengtson, but the Honduran, with an open net to look at, sent his effort high of the target.

It was a wasted chance, but it didn’t matter as New England went on to grab the victory in their home finale in front of their largest crowd of the season. The Revolution wrap up their season with a trip to Montreal next Saturday.


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