The New England Revolution put two consecutive wins together for the first time in 2013 on Saturday night when they swept aside Conference rivals Toronto FC by a score of 2-0 at Gillette Stadium. The victory came on the backs of the squad's hot hands: Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo.
Fagundez's goal opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, and also opened the Revs' first-half account for the season. It was a goal that might be seen for some time as Chris Tierney lofted a cross to the far post that Diego finished with an excellent first-time volley from an acute angle.
"[I] just whipped it in," said Tierney. "Wasn't trying to pick out Diego or anything, just trying to put it in a good area. Diego's hot these days, so, what a finish on his part. Great side-foot finish. We were happy to get the early goal."
Agudelo, meanwhile, scored in second-half stoppage time, sealing the victory after Toronto had created some pressure in the late going. Substitute Kelyn Rowe got a throw-in to connect with fellow substitute Saer Sene, who dribbled through a Toronto player before flicking a cross to Agudelo, who needed simply to touch it beyond Joe Bendik to the far post and in. The goal came after Agudelo nearly got on the end of two Fagundez crosses that would likely have resulted in easy tap-ins if not for defender intervention.
"I just feel like I have to crash into the six," said Agudelo of his eventually-successful efforts to score. "That's where, you know, a lot of the goals that a guy playing in that point position's goals are scored. So that's what I tried to do, be in the six, and great play by Saer. He was able to get me the ball, and it was all him."
The match seemed well in hand for the Revolution squad after they put in a dominant first-half performance. They had the lead and the momentum, but the second half almost saw them let the game get away as they seemed to take the foot off the pedal and allow Toronto time and space on the ball.
The difference in halves is reflected in the numbers; after hoarding 63.8% of the possession in the first half, the Revs were down to just 34.2% in the second. They also attempted just 138 second-half passes, which was a full 118 fewer than Toronto. The Reds also edged New England in the shots battle for the half, 7-5. Head coach Jay Heaps was well aware of the danger of such a dip in play and energy.
"Unfortunately our second half, we dipped a little bit," said Heaps. "It's kind of been counter to what we've done this season; we've been better in the second half. So an area to work on is definitely the way we came out in the second half. A little bit flat, gave up a little bit of the control of the possession, and had to grind it out. I'd rather us have kept up the way we were playing in the second half."
The goal puts New England at .500 (or maybe .333, depending on how you look at it) with a 4-4-4 record on the season and 16 points. They're within shouting distance of a playoff spot in a crowded and competitive Eastern Conference, and with two more home matches coming up in the next two weeks, they'll be hoping to keep their climb up the table going strong.
The Revs are in action again on Tuesday night at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, where they'll take on their USL Pro affiliate the Rhinos in US Open Cup action. That match kicks off at 7:35 PM EDT. We'll have all the coverage for that match here at The Bent Musket.