The New England Revolution’s attack came alive on Sunday when the home team defeated the Philadelphia Union 5-1. Braces from Kelyn Rowe and Juan Agudelo coupled with a Diego Fagundez goal helped the Revs collect three points and assume fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Revs had one of their brightest starts of the season as they held 58.2% of possession and maintained a passing accuracy of 81.5% in the first half. Rowe added the most meaningful stat in the 26th minute when he gathered a Chad Barrett feed and put a long-range effort past Zac MacMath.
“[The Union] had been dropping a lot,” Rowe explained. “I thought: let it run by and try to hit it on goal. Luckily, it just trickled in far post.”
The Union came out of the locker room with a renewed focus and quickly found an equalizer. In the 50th minute, Danny Cruz was able to round Matt Reis after being put in behind the Revolution defense by Conor Casey.
“I thought we came out flat at the half and I hate that, and I’m really disappointed in that,” head coach Jay Heaps commented.
Philadelphia looked to have found the go-ahead goal on two occasions but referee Allen Chapman found infractions on both plays. Sebastien Le Toux’s 53rd minute rebound goal was disallowed because the Frenchman was spotted offside. Two minutes later, Casey knocked in a loose ball but Chapman claimed that the Union striker had roughed up Reis.
“I think that calling back that second goal…was unfair to us,” Cruz said. “We worked very hard to get in the position that we were in and unfortunately, I feel like the refereeing was very one-sided and that goal kind of epitomized the night for us.”
The Revs adjusted to the onslaught by bringing on the physical Dimitry Imbongo and shifting Agudelo to the right flank. The move gave the 20 year-old more space to operate and attack. In the 58th minute, Agudelo, who squandered a prime opportunity in the first half, put the home team ahead. The play was initiated when Rowe intercepted a ball at midfield and sprung Fagundez.
“At halftime, I kind of talked to myself and I was like I need to do something to help my teammates in the second half,” Agudelo remarked. “I take full responsibility for keeping Philly in the game and them tying the game. I did what I could do to help the team win.”
The goal inspired more from the Revs. Rowe had his second goal of the night in the 65th minute when his long-range strike hit the upper 90. Fagundez obtained his team-leading eighth goal of the season in the 71st minute when he finished off a Scott Caldwell pass. The scoring ceased in the 73rd minute but not before Agudelo could complete his brace.
Heaps rationalized the offensive output by saying, “I think once Kelyn hit that first goal, they started to drop a little bit and then we were finding good gap lanes, and I really like the way we penetrated. I thought we got behind them a few times, and that’s what I thought was what opened the thing up was we made good selfless runs to open up some space for us.”
The Revs will continue their march towards the playoffs on Friday, August 30th when they travel to Toronto FC.
3 Observations and Revelations
1. Regardless of what Heaps says, there was a statement made on Sunday. Heaps was coy in his post-game press conference when asked if the 5-1 victory made a statement to the league. The gaffer explained that making playoffs was the ultimate goal and anything short of that would mean little to the club’s reputation. While it’s noble for Heaps to stay focused, the Revs should celebrate the landmarks. Heaps’ men have now amassed more wins (10 vs. 9), points (36 vs. 34) and shutouts (12 vs. 9) than last year. Beyond adding to those statistics, the game against Philadelphia proved that the Revs can grind out results. Before Sunday, the Revs had only won one game in which their opponent had scored. The team’s most recent performance proved that this year’s squad can overcome adversity, a characteristic necessary for a playoff run.
2. This could be the group that carries the Revs to the playoffs. The Revolution’s starting eleven has been in a constant state of flux this year with week-to-week changes. In fact, Heaps has only utilized the same starting lineup in successive games on three occasions. Sunday marked the most recent time and it provided desirable results. The backline was stingy and smart while the offensive was crafty and potent. Even the bench was valuable with Imbongo providing two assists, Andy Dorman offering stout defense and Charlie Davies showing attacking flair. This Revs team is one that should be feared and that hasn’t been said in a long time.
3. Agudelo is a special kid. Agudelo might only be spending a brief time in New England but he’s doing his best to make it memorable. In the seven games in which Agudelo has appeared, the Revs have only lost one game and that one was marred by an early red card. Heaps, who tried so hard to make Jerry Bengtson fit into the 4-1-4-1 formation, has the perfect piece in Agudelo. Despite his skill and future ambitions, Agudelo remains a humble and loyal teammate as seen when he participated in the Rowe celebration and immediately pointed to Fagundez after his first goal. With Agudelo leaving in the offseason, the Revs need to find a player in exact same mold.
(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)