BY CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.– No team had been able to quell the juggernaut Seattle Sounders since the start of April, but the New England Revolution proved on Sunday that its own recent hot streak was no fluke either.
The Revs scored four goals in the first half, including the first two of the season by Diego Fagundez, in a 5-0 dismantling of a Sounders team that came into the match on a five-match winning streak.
“It definitely gets our hopes up,” said the 19-year-old Fagundez. We’ve battled against three good teams in the past couple of games and we’re doing well against them and that’s what we want.”
New England pushed its own unbeaten streak to five matches. Doing so on the strength of a lightning-fast counter that overwhelmed a sluggish-looking Seattle side that looked to have been feeling the effects of playing three games in nine days, with consecutive cross-country flights thrown in.
Though tired legs may have played it part, the Sounders defense was terribly out of sync as Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury, Patrick Mullins and Fagundez ran circles around the visiting team’s defense.
“I think maybe psychologically, maybe we weren’t as alert as we needed to be in certain occasions, you know, around the box and maybe defensively as well,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Our positional defense was not good.”
The Revs defense also turned in an outstanding performance, pushing their shutout streak to 360 minutes by stifling the league’s most dangerous attack. Bobby Shuttleworth (6 saves) survived the Sounders’ forward duo of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, pocketing his fourth shutout of 2014.
New England (5-3-2) move into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with the victory, moving even with Sporting Kansas City on points, though Sporting KC have a match in hand.
“We don’t send messages, we just play hard,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said, downplaying the final score. “We’re just going out and playing what’s on our schedule. Every game for us is hugely important.”
The Sounders controlled the opening run of play, but things turned quickly after rookie Patrick Mullins tallied his second goal in as many weeks in the 14th minute.
The play started on a quick give-and-go between Chris Tierney and Fagundez, with the left back serving in a dangerous cross. Keeper Stefan Frei saved Teal Bunbury’s initial try at the right post, but Mullins followed up to bang home the rebound.
“I wanted to make sure I put myself in a position to where, if the ball bounced away, I was ready to pounce on it,” said Mullins, who also scored the equalizer in last weekend’s win over Toronto FC.
Fagundez doubled the lead in the 29th minute in the sequence following a right side corner by Lee Nguyen. Tierney played the ball forward to Fagundez, who was inexplicably left unguarded in the box for a rocket inside the left post. The youngster, who still lives with his parents, Washington and Alicia, in Leominster, made heart symbol for his after-goal celebration to commemorate Mother’s Day.
“My mom has been here since the first day, from the first day I signed and from the first day that I played, so it’s great that she still supports me everywhere that I go,” Fagundez said. “She still comes to every game and sees all the goals.”
The bounces continued to go New England’s way on its third goal as Nguyen played Bunbury through in the 36th minute and Frei was there to deny him at the left post. The rebound went back to Bunbury and he finished from a tough angle left of goal as Frei’s attempt at a kick save failed.
Fagundez added his second goal on a ruthless 41st-minute counterattack as Bunbury delivered a looping long ball on a dime. The 19 year old chested it down and squared up to deliver a side-footer past Frei to set it at 4-0 at the intermission.
“I knew (Seattle right back DeAndre Yedlin) would go up a lot and there was going to be space and I took advantage of that and they got punched for that,” Fagundez said.
The Revolution caught Seattle napping to make it 5-0 just 31 seconds into the second half. Bunbury had space right of goal and appeared to be serving it to the far post when his pass deflected in off Chad Marshall, tricking Frei for an own goal.
The result ruined the homecoming of former Revs star Clint Dempsey, who left New England to pursue glory in the English Premier League with Fulham FC after the 2006 season. Dempsey had been in-form before Sunday, sitting second in MLS with eight goals.
“We knew that (Dempsey and Obafemi Martins) like going central,” said Heaps, complimenting the play of midfielder Andy Dorman and center backs Andrew Farrell and A.J. Soares. “We wanted to make sure that we had numbers around those two guys, and when they got the ball we had to get pressure to it immediately. They’re going to get the ball, you just have to make sure they’re not getting it behind you.”
The win continues a strong run for the Revs, who beat Sporting KC at home two weeks ago and earned their first ever win in Toronto last weekend.
The Revs’ next match is Saturday on the road against Philadelphia. Seattle will look to bounce back next Saturday at home against the San Jose Earthquakes.