The New England Revolution snapped a 10 game winless streak against the Chicago Fire tonight at Gillette Stadium, largely thanks to the 2nd half substitution of Kelyn Rowe (1 goal, 1 assist) who gave the Revs the spark they needed to put away two goals and assure themselves of 3 points. Benny Feilhaber was also largely responsible for the win, as he notched a goal and an assist of his own on the night, the first of either that he's had so far in this 2012 campaign.
Jay Heaps had plenty of decisions coming into this match, with special consideration to the handful of injuries plaguing his midfield. He opted to dispatch Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph in the middle of the pitch, with Joseph occupying the defensive role usually filled by Clyde Simms.
Benny, who has mostly been used out wide so far this season, has made it known that he is more comfortable in the center of the midfield, and that certainly came through tonight."I thought Benny did everything right tonight," Jay Heaps said after the game, "He defended when we needed him to defend and when he had his chances to change the game he did."
But it was Rowe who made the most notable difference, racking up his first assist and second goal of the year. "He's been pushing hard lately," said Heaps of Rowe. "When he came into the game there was a different buzz... we like getting him in those situations when he can be a dynamic attacker for us... I knew when he went in that he was going to add a spark."
The Revs led in possession, passing accuracy, and duels won at the half, and seemed to be resembling a very Heaps-ian team, but their lack of a clinical finish was apparent as their chances proved futile. The Revs only managed to put one shot on goal in the first 45 minutes, a header from Jose Moreno from a Lee Nguyen cross which was handled easily by Chicago keeper Sean Johnson. But the Revolution did manage to keep the Fire at bay with good ball movement and by keeping possession.
Into the second half it was much of the same story, with the Fire pressuring the Revs much more than in the first half. Shots from Dominic Oduro, Sebastian Grazzini, and Patrick Nyarko were enough to test Matt Reis and the Revolution back-line, but the squad's defensive efforts kept the Fire off the scoreboard in the end.
Despite Chicago's many chances in the second half, all that changed once Kelyn Rowe was introduced. Rowe, who was a 64th minute sub, helped the Revs take back control of the game. "Jay told me to come in, give some energy, and make an impact," said Rowe. "It's a great feeling for us and it's a great stepping stone for the next game."
For Feilhaber, his goal and assist were just as important for himself personally as they were for the team's win. "It was nice to get a goal and an assist, I haven't had any of those this year, so hopefully that will propel me to some more."
But more than just tallying some important stats, Benny also spoke to the Revs' difficult US Open Cup loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders on Tuesday night. "It was really nice to get that open cup game out of my head, because that was a nightmare for all the guys that went there," he said. "It wasn't good enough, and it was depressing... so it was really good to be able to get that lead, not relinquish it, and it's a really important 3 points."
With tonight's win, the Revolution increase their record to 5-7-1, already matching the total number of wins they had all of last season. They will now enjoy a 2 week break and prepare for their next match-up against the Columbus Crew on June 16th.