Local boy Diego Fagundez netted the game-winner in the 17th minute to send fans home happy on the Revolution's final home game of the season against long-time rival Chicago Fire.
Who better to have provided the Revolution fans a win on their final home game of the season than well-loved local boy Diego Fagundez? His 17th minute strike was the difference-maker as New England extinguished the playoff-bound Fire, increasing their record to 9-17-8.
It was an unimaginative first half from both sides, with steady possession seemingly hard to come by. Although only 5 combined attempts on goal were registered, one of them found the back of the net, a beauty from 25 yards out rifled in by Diego Fagundez. Fagundez, who just recently returned to New England from his first international call-up with Uruguay, was played into space in the 17th minute by rookie Kelyn Rowe and sent in a howler past Sean Johnson that tucked away into the far post for the 17-year-old’s second of the year.
"Everyone was playing well, we were just moving the ball and Kelyn played it through the middle and I was just making a good run," said Fagundez after the match. "Once I got up to the top of the 18, I was trying to pass it and no one was open… I saw the back post open so I took that shot and it went in."
The second half played out in much of the same fashion, though both teams generated some decent chances. The Revs’ first chance came in the 55th minute by way of Deigo Fagundez yet again when he was played into the box by Dimitry Imbongo. Imbongo did well to race the ball up the field on a counter after Blair Gavin helped to dispossess the ensuing Fire in New England’s defensive third. Fagundez’s shot sailed high and wide unfortunately.
Shortly thereafter, in the 60th minute, Chris Rolfe found himself with lots of room on the right wing and sent in a dangerous cross that looked to have the thin New England defense beat, but luckily it was off target and A.J. Soares was able to clear it. In the 86th minute Alvaro Fernandez sent in yet another dangerous cross that made its way to Patrick Nyarko, but Ryan Guy did well to disrupt its accuracy and Bobby Shuttleworth saved it with ease.
The Revolution played perhaps their best stretch in the final few moments of the game. Second half subs Juan Toja and Chris Tierney did well to help stretch the defense and Fagundez was still very much in tune on the attack. The Revs almost managed a second goal in the 90th minute when Fagundez played in a picture perfect ball to Jerry Bengtson, who found himself wide open in front of the net. However, the DP striker put too much on it and sent it flying over the crossbar.
In the end, it didn’t matter and the Revs were able to secure a win in front of a crowd of 25,534, the fourth largest for a regular season, stand-alone MLS match in Gillette Stadium history.
"You could see we came out with some fire and some good energy, and that’s how we needed to start the game," said coach Jay Heaps. "For me, we’re going to get chances and we had a couple chances, not as many as I’d like, but what I really saw was closing the ball down. When they came into our half, it was personal defensively. And those were things we harped on all year and there have been games when we’ve done it and there have been games when we haven’t.
Heaps went on to credit the likes of Blair Gavin, who made his Revolution debut tonight, and especially Clyde Simms, who captained tonight’s squad and was tasked with the difficult challenge of shadowing Chris Rolfe all game. "That’s what Clyde does," said Heaps, "he has to help us with the possession, and he had to know exactly where Chris Rolfe was at all times… and he had a heck of a night doing that."
"In reflecting," Heaps said, "I look at kind of two tales here: in the first half [it] was figuring out what we had and what we were doing and things were going well at times for us early on… unfortunately, a couple times later in the year I think that the game plan was there but there was a silly mistake or there was a bad foul at the wrong time… we’re still developing a maturity and I think that as we continue to go and as you see some of the things we’re trying to do, players are really picking up on how we go into games and I thought… that it showed tonight and we had a good game plan."
The Revolution will finish their season next weekend on the road against the Montreal Impact.