Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — With time beginning to run out on the New England Revolution’s once-promising season, a home game Saturday night against lowly Chivas USA proved just the tonic for a Revs team looking to break out of an extended summer malaise.
The Revs top player this season, central midfielder Lee Nguyen, gave the crowd of 16,427 something to cheer about in the 56th minute, sending a rocket right to left across goal from the edge of the box for the only goal in a 1-0 victory.
“We went through a tough little stretch but we knew we had the quality here to turn it around,” said Nguyen, who now has nine goals, more than double that of any other teammate.
Chivas (6-12-6) has now gone scoreless in five straight matches, but they didn’t make it easy for the Revs (9-12-3), who struggled to finish despite controlling over 65 percent of position.
Just setting up Nguyen’s goal took a bit of inspiration as the home side switched sidelines twice in a quick span, with Andrew Farrell sending it to the left sideline and Diego Fagundez delivering another long ball to Kelyn Rowe on the right side.
“Kelyn was pinching in early,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said. “We like Kelyn to pinch when he’s on the wing during the build-up and closer to midfield, but once we get into the final third, final quarter, we want Kelyn width and that’s exactly where the goal came from.”
Rowe one-touched it to Daigo Kobayashi, who played a back heel one-two to Rowe as he moved central. That drew three Chivas defenders, allowing Nguyen an open look on his right foot.
New England had squandered leads in each of the previous two weeks, but goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth turned in one of his better performances in notching the shutout.
Shuttleworth made four saves, two against shots on target by Felix Borja on either side of halftime. His best stop came in the 18th minute, diving for a swiping save at the bottom right corner.
Heaps said Shuttleworth’s form on Saturday “gave us a spark to go forward a little bit more.”
“I think it’s been an up and down season for us and not just for myself but the whole team,” Shuttleworth said. “It’s been very frustrating, but we’re right in the thick of things. It’s going to be a fight till the end, but we’re going to give it everything.”
Without much star power to begin with, the Goats were left even more shorthanded after Thursday’s trade of playmaker Mauro Rosales to Vancouver. New arrivals Nigel Reo-Coker (part of the Rosales deal) and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado were not yet available to play.
The Revs welcomed one of their own newcomers as former U.S. Men’s National Team youth international Tony Taylor, 25, made his first MLS appearance after spending four years in Europe.
Taylor subbed on for Charlie Davies in the 81st minute and played up top. Davies, who struggled with injuries earlier in the season, has gone further into the game each of the last three weeks.
The Revs head up to the tough environs of Toronto’s BMO Field on Saturday – a place where they won for the first time ever back in May.
Despite their summer struggles, New England still sits just one point behind the New York Red Bulls for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Chivas, meanwhile, will hope its reinforcements will be ready to help snap its six-game winless streak in an Aug. 31 derby match against the LA Galaxy.
Here are the match highlights:
Who impressed you in the Revs-Chivas game? Would New England be lost without Lee Nguyen? Will Chivas be able to break out of its scoreless streak next weekend?
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