It was ugly, but two moments of sheer brilliance pushed the New England Revolution to a draw against the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon. With that point, the Revs have clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row. The talking point, however, will be Lee Nguyen's remarkable equalizer.
Nguyen's audacious chip came in the 69th minute, tying the match for the Revs after two Marco di Vaio goals sandwiched an excellent Kelyn Rowe effort. Other than the goals, though, neither team seemed to find the rhythm of the match.
The opening goal belonged to di Vaio, and he did it as he has done so many times before. A long diagonal ball was played over the top, right to left. A.J. Soares and Kevin Alston had lost track of the Italian hit man, and he made it look easy when he brought the ball down and snapped it into the back of the net.
Rowe's equalizer, though, was brilliant. After coming out of the box to collect an errant pass, he turned smartly and slipped a ball to Charlie Davies. Davies flicked it back to Rowe for a great give-and-go, and Rowe was clear in the box, able to slot home past Evan Bush with ease in the 16th minute.
Montreal took the lead back in the 40th minute, though. Once again it was a diagonal long ball to di Vaio. This time, it was a slick change of speeds that allowed the striker to outwit Jose Goncalves before knocking the ball into the net off the base of the far post.
Finally, Nguyen's stunner in the 69th capped the scoring and gave the Revs the result they needed. Scott Caldwell charged the top of the box with the ball before laying it off to his right to Nguyen. The Impact, however, appeared to have everything well-covered, with the middle jammed and the defense in great position. Several Montreal players stepped to close Nguyen down, but Lee somehow shaped his foot to scoop-chip the ball up and over the defense and the keeper, but somehow into the net, with maybe two yards of space to work with behind Bush. It was a legitimate Goal of the Year candidate.
New England returns to action on Thursday night in Houston.