That will never go down as the best game the New England Revolution's long 2013 campaign. Out possessed badly for most of the game, unable to even maintain basic possession of the ball at times, the Revs ended the game ahead in the only stat that mattered.
Juan Agudelo scored on a nifty one-two pass with Lee Nguyen in the first half and Matt Reis and defense did the rest as New England secured their first playoff berth since 2009 with a 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew.
The game started off poorly for the Revs, as captain Jose Goncalves went down with an apparent hamstring injury, the Revs defender who's played every minute of the season was able to continue. And with the Revs already a bit shorthanded defensively and giving the Crew about 70% of the possession in the early stages, it appeared that Columbus would score the opener.
Columbus' Dominic Oduro forced Matt Reis into a reflex save in the 3rd minute and then Bernardo Anor fired a header over the bar on the ensuing corner kick in the 4th minute, while at the same time Goncalves was on the sideline receiving treatment for his injury.
Andy Dorman almost put the Revs in front about 15 mintues into the half, his glancing header from a Kelyn Rowe free kick going just wide. Then Jairo Arrieta fired a low shot that beat Reis and also the post in the 27th.
But then the Revs put together a moment of sheer magic a minute later. Andrew Farrell played a long pass to the feet of Juan Agudelo, who backheeled a pass to the overlapping Lee Nguyen. Agudelo curled back the center, beat his mark and calmly fired home the return pass for a 1-0 lead.
As it turns out, that would be all New England would need offensively. Despite Kevin Alston departing the game due to injury, the Revs defense would hold strong thanks in part to Matt Reis 4 saves. For Reis, it capped off a 2013 campaign in which he didn't lose a game and had a GAA of less than one.
The game got increasingly chippy in the second half, culminating with a straight red card to Columbus' Dominic Oduro for a undercutting Rowe late in the second half. Reis and Agudelo were also booked for time wasting as several injuries and stoppages forced eight additional minutes off added time.
At the end, it was a joyful celebration for the Revs, who went unbeaten in their last six games, going 4W-0L-2D against several Eastern Conference hopefuls. With the New York Red Bulls defeating the Chicago Fire 5-2, the Revs will finish 3rd in the Eastern Conference which will set up a home-and-home series with 2nd place finishers Sporting Kansas City.
It's nothing less than this young team have deserved and fought for the entire season, particularly in the past month. It was speculated that the Revs would need to win out following their draw with New York to begin the month and they did just that, going to Montreal and sweeping a home-and-home with Columbus to end the season.
But the season is not over yet. At least two more games to go. And it's been far too long since New England has been able to say that in November.