Winless in five straight, the Revolution entered Saturday’s match against Real Salt Lake in need of a breakthrough performance. Four goals and 90 minutes later, the club answered the call.
Here’s who stood out during the weekend win:
In one of his best performances of the season, Nguyen pestered a shorthanded RSL back line from minute one to minute 90. He made life easy for Kei Kamara with a well-placed corner in the 18th minute (Kamara buried the cross). He then picked up a hockey assist on Diego Fagundez’s tally, putting Kelyn Rowe in position to put simple pass across the face of goal. And he got on the score sheet in the 41st minute with a run to the top of the box and smooth finish past Matt Van Oekel.
Don’t look know, but Nguyen is on pace for a 15-goal, 12-assist campaign (he has scored five goals and added four helpers so far in 2017). Though he’s been a bit streaky this season, the former MVP finalist has put together a handful of impressive performances. He’ll look to stay on track this weekend against Columbus.
After missing back-to-back road matches while anticipating the birth of his son, Kamara showed no sign of rust against Real Salt Lake. It took him just 18 minutes to score his third goal of the season, a classic Kamara finish off a line-drive corner from Nguyen. He then picked up an assist in the 41st minute, returning the favor with a pass that connected with Nguyen on trailing run.
Though he has struggled to find his rhythm this season, Kamara has turned in a handful of performances that look remnant of his second stint in Columbus, when he scored 27 goals in 41 appearances. In these performances, Kamara has offered strong hold-up play, finished with class and bullied opposing defenses with physical play. That’s the Kei Kamara Jay Heaps traded for last May.
Kouassi played in a box-to-box role against Columbus last week, and his ventures forward cost the Revs on the defensive side of the ball. But against Real Salt Lake, Kouassi stayed at home in front of center backs Antonio Delamea and Benjamin Angoua. Kouassi ultimately played a key role in helping Cody Cropper earn his third clean sheet of the season. He picked up a game-high five interceptions, connected on 93 percent of his passes (he served as one of five Revs starters to pass at better than 90 percent) and contributed six clearances—several of which thwarted a goal-scoring threat.
For all 90 minutes, Kouassi reminded Revolution fans of the quality he provides in the middle of the park. And with Gershon Koffie set to arrive this week, that reminder could be an important one.
Without a doubt, Fagundez is playing the best soccer of his career, a trend that continued on Saturday. He made himself known in the 4th minute when he collected a long ball down the left channel, beat Reagan Dunk to the end line, created space with a clever turn and fed Scott Caldwell in front of goal. Caldwell put the Revs on the board with a one-touch finish.
Diego went on to score his first goal of the season 30 minutes later, capping a match that had his name all over it from the opening whistle onward. He took 85 touches—far and away a game high—and executed four dribble sequences (also a game high). It’s that type of lively play that has helped Diego elevate his game in his seventh professional season.
Honorable mentions: Scott Caldwell, Chris Tierney