Jose Goncalves was the perfect captain for the Revolution on Saturday night against the Columbus Crew, carrying them as both a defender and a goal scorer.
Just three days after scoring an own goal in the Revolution's 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids, Goncalves netted the game winning goal in second half stoppage time and anchored the defense as the Revolution beat Columbus, 2-0, at Crew Stadium. The victory snaps a two-game losing streak and puts the Revolution within two points of the Eastern Conference's fifth and final playoff spot.
"More important for him were the zeros tonight, and I thought he defended well," said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. "The other night he was disappointed, he dove in, not something he normally does. He was carrying the team tonight, he wanted to win this game all night. And to get the winner is a special thing for him."
Five of the Revolution's players in the starting 11 entered the game with less than ten starts. The Revolution were without Saer Sene (hip), Juan Agudelo (knee), and Stephen McCarthy (head injuries) and also chose to rest starters Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja, and Diego Fagundez.
Goncalves has had to adjust to AJ Soares, who earned his first start on Saturday since April 20 in place of McCarthy, as a partner in central defense on the fly.
"I think we can see from tonight that when we needed some fresh legs and they stepped in to help us get this win Ė they worked really hard," said Goncalves of players in similar positions as Soares.
"This is the mentality you have to have. Itís very hard when you sit on the bench, but you must be ready every week."
The duo kept the back line safe against Columbus, making every tackle, cover, and clearance necessary to preserve the Revolution's first shutout since July 6. Their stingy defending, which was supplemented by Darrius Barnes and Andrew Farrell, provided plenty of relief for Bobby Shuttleworth, who only had to make two saves.
Nevertheless, the Crew had nine more attempts on goal than the Revolution and controlled 53 percent of the possession. Columbus needed to go right after the Revolution and did, as they entered the game in seventh place, just one point behind New England.
The fact that Clyde Simms, Chad Barrett, Dimitry Imbongo, Soares, and Barnes were thrust into starting roles despite lacking chemistry with the Revolution's regular starters clearly gave Columbus the edge to dominate most of the game.
Heaps chose to inject some life into the team by subbing on usual starters that were resting on the bench. Nguyen replaced Simms in the 58th minute and Fagundez came on for Barrett in the 69th. Additionally, Toja came on in the 82nd minute for Kelyn Rowe and gave the Revolution another offensive boost.
"I talked to Toja, Nguyen, and Fagundez," added Heaps. "I wanted to make sure as the game broke open that those guys would influence the game. I thought all three of them were ready, watched where they could make an impact, and quite frankly they went in an did an excellent job."
The Revolution showed signs of life late in the game which was enough to snatch a victory. In the first minute of stoppage time, Dimitry Imbongo fired a low drive to the near post that Andy Gruenebaum had to knock away for a corner kick. That led to the play that generated Goncalves' goal.
Lee Nguyen served the ball into the penalty area from the corner flag and Goncalves rose to meet it at the back post, heading the ball through the legs of Gruenebaum and into the back of the net. It was his first goal with the Revolution, and the fifth all-time of his 12-year career.
"For me, itís very important that we won the game Ė the three points are whatís most important," explained Goncalves.
"It doesnít matter how it happened. Itís over, we learn from our mistakes, and we have to keep going because there are only so many points we can take in this league Ė this is what I do every day. Yesterday is gone and all we have is today."
The Revolution's second goal was where Heaps was really rewarded for the substitutions he chose to make. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Columbus' Chad Marshall gave the ball away to Nguyen, who was about 30 yards from goal.
Fagundez went in behind the defense off a through-ball by Nguyen and fired a low drive past Gruenbaum for his sixth goal of the season. It was Fagundez' first goal since June 2 and sealed up the three points.
The loss puts the Crew four points behind the Revolution, who now have some breathing room as they look to continue their hike into playoff position. They will round out a three-game road trip at last place DC United, who they have yet to beat this season, next Sunday.
"I think everyone seems satisfied with the effort today," added Goncalves. "Like we had been saying during the week, this was an important game...We created the best chances in this game and I think we deserved to win."
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