FOXBORO, Mass- Kristie Mewis will remember her first career international goal for the rest of her life. The Hanson, Mass native scored in just the third minute of the US' 4-1 victory over Korea Republic at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, venturing into the penalty area from her natural position at left back to finish a play created by Sydney LeRoux.
"It was the best feeling in the entire world," Mewis said after the game while her hometown crowd chanted her name from the stands.
The South Koreans struggled to contain LeRoux in the opening 20 minutes of the game, her speed setting up a string of chances from the right flank. On the goal, Mewis went into the penalty area unmarked and easily poked one of LeRoux's feeds into the back of the open net to give the US the early lead.
"I saw that the back post was open, that whole are was open, so I decided to make a run there," explained Mewis. "It ended up slipping through and I just tapped it in. I owe a lot of credit to Sydney LeRoux, who made a great run and pass to set it up."
The fact that Mewis made a run into the penalty area from a defensive position is probably due to the fact that her natural position is on the left wing. US national team coach Tom Sermanni moved her into a defensive position when he began calling her up for international games earlier this year.
"It's definitely new and it's different," said Mewis of moving into defense. "But the girls that are playing next to me are unbelievable and so supportive so it's been a really good experience. I'm still learning and still growing and I'm a young player but I think I'll be able to manage if I keep doing what I'm doing."
"Tom [Sermanni] is giving new players experience. It's been such a good year so far and we're really growing as a team."
Of the 13,035 who attended the game and saw Mewis represent her city and country, close to 70 were members of her own family. A star at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School and Boston College, Mewis, now a regular starter with FC Kansas City of the National Women's Soccer League, relished the opportunity to return home and play in front of loved ones and friends.
But what was perhaps just as fulfilling was donning a US jersey with a "Boston Strong" patch sewn on it to honor those lost in the Boston Marathon Terrorist Attacks. Mewis' goal and her presence on the field against Korea Republic was quite the statement in front of her hometown crowd.
"I was born in Boston. This is my home, this is my place, and something that horrible happened in my hometown. To be able to come here, just a couple of months after, be able to play in front of everyone and score on this night just makes it that much more memorable."
Mewis will join the US for a re-match against Korea Republic on Thursday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. After that, she will return to FC Kansas City to close out the remainder of the NWSL season. Mewis has helped Kansas City achieve fourth place in the overall league standings, four points ahead of her hometown Breakers.
The Breakers could have signed Mewis were it not for the order in this winter's college draft. Kansas City signed her with the third overall pick in the draft, just ahead of Boston who had the fifth overall pick. But Mewis will make another return to Boston on Aug. 10 when the Breakers host Kansas City at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville.
"Obviously it's a little disappointing that I didn't get drafted by Boston, but I'm having fun in Kansas City. I'm having the time of my life there."
Though she is currently playing for a different city, she has no problem saying: "I'm Boston. I'm such a Boston girl and I always will be."
FINAL: USA 4, SOUTH KOREA 1
90th minute stoppage time- GOAL USA! Wambach scores the 156th goal of her international career, converting from the penalty spot. Jungmi stood still while Wambach slotted it into the lower right corner of the net. 4-1 USA
90th minute stoppage time- The referee awards the USA a penalty kick.
89th minute- Mewis hits the crossbar from left side of the penalty area. 3-1
57th minute- USA GOAL! Carli Lloyd stings one from long range, about 35 yards out, and finds the back of the net to make it 3-1 to the USA.
52nd minute- Wambach volleys one over the crossbar.
50th minute- 13,035 at tonight's game.
46th minute- And we're off! Wambach on for LeRoux, Solo on for Barnhart.
Halftime: USA 2, South Korea 1
36th minute- The USA haven't looked particularly good since they scored in the 16th minute. They lead 2-1.
26th minute- GOAL SOUTH KOREA! Sohyun fires a bullet from the top of the penalty area into the back of the net to cut USA's lead in half. 2-1.
20th minute- Morgan gets played in behind the defense, she cuts past her defender and then has her shot stopped by Jungmi. 2-0 USA.
16th minute- USA clearly have the upper hand because they're just better than the Koreans, but they look sloppy. 2-0 USA.
7th minute- GOAL USA! Lauren Cheney dribbles into the penalty area, cuts past her defender, and fires inside the far post. 2-0.
6th minute- LeRoux having all sorts of joy on the right flank. She plays in Morgan who fires, but has her shot stopped from point blank range by Jungmi. 1-0 USA.
3rd minute- GOAL USA! Christie Mewis scores in front of her hometown crowd. She bangs the ball into the back of the net off a feed from LeRoux. 1-0 USA.
2nd minute- LeRoux plays a ball into the box for Morgan, who lays it off to Rampone. Rampone shoots and has her effort tipped over the bar by Jungmi. 0-0.
1st minute- And we're off!
Lineups: USA- GK: Barnhart; D: Rampone, Sauerbrunn, Mewis, Buehler; M: O'Reilly, Cheney, Heath, Lloyd; F- Morgan...South Korea- GK: Jungmi; D: Seoyeon, Seonjoo, Hyeri; M- Sejin, Sohyun, Narae, Heeyoung; F- Eunha, Younga, Sohyun Cho
When the Vancouver Whitecaps cut Lee Nguyen last Spring, they probably didn't expect him to score against them when they visited the Revolution. But on May 12 last year, exactly that happened as Nguyen scored a brace to lead the Revolution over Vancouver, 4-1, at Gillette Stadium.
His first goal tied the game up after the Whitecaps opened the scoring early in the first half. His second was the icing on the cake, a volley from outside the penalty area that curled inside the net at the far post, an eventual candidate for last year's MLS Goal of the Year.
“Any game I play, I’m always trying to prove myself,” said Nguyen, who was dropped by the Whitecaps last year just 79 days after they acquired him via weighted lottery. “There might be that little extra edge going into Vancouver. We’ll see.”
The Revolution play at Vancouver on Saturday night at BCEC Place. It's their first time ever playing in the stadium as well as Nguyen's first time in Vancouver since he was let go.
Though he may have originally planned to make a name for himself in Vancouver, Nguyen has done a solid job establishing himself with the Revolution. He's a key part of Head Coach Jay Heaps' four-man midfield and arguably the team's most creative offensive player. In terms of output, Nguyen has had a slow start to the season, contributing just two goals and one assist. But his work in midfield alongside Kelyn Rowe, Juan Toja, and Scott Caldwell is a big reason why the Revolution enter Wednesday's match on a five-game unbeaten run.
"We just have to continue playing our game," explained Nguyen of the Revolution's recent positive streak. "it's been working these past couple of games. We just have to be confidence, go in there and play our game at their place. It'll be difficult, but we have to go do it."
Vancouver are unbeaten at home this season despite their 4-5-4 overall record. Similar to the Revolution, the Whitecaps are also a handful of points outside the fifth and final playoff spot in their conference. That means that they're just as hungry for a victory as the Revolution.
Despite letting go of Nguyen's abundant talent last year, the Whitecaps have other offensive weapons. Brazilian Camilo Sanvezzo leads the team with five goals, and runs at opposing defenders with horse-like pace. Scottish forward Kenny Miller has contributed three goals alongside Camilo this year, while Nigel Reo-Coker, the English Premier League veteran signed by Vancouver this off-season, has been the engine in midfield.
Nguyen and the Revolution are entering this game with confidence, which will be key if they're going to stop Vancouver. Winning the midfield battle and limiting the service between Reo-Coker and the forwards should be part of New England's strategy.
"We see what Vancouver are good at, what they're strengths are and how we can minimize those," explained Heaps on the Revolution's webiste.
"They're an excellent team. They do a lot of good things. They'll punish you if you make a mistake. They take advantage of mistakes. They're good in possession, they've got a lot of experience. They're a team that's got a lot of the pieces."
While the Revolution have momentum in the lead-up to this game, getting either a tie or win is important since they have a bye-week next week. A loss against Vancouver and more time off could dissolve the positive mentality the Revolution have been playing with through June.
"It would be a nice thing to go into the break, relaxing, get our bodies recovering," said Nguyen of the upcoming week off. "Mentally [we want to know] that we're in a good position."
The US play against Honduras in their sixth World Cup qualifier next Tuesday. Revolution forward Jerry Bengston was sent back to Boston by Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez after the two reportedly had a falling out following Bengston being benched for Honduras' last qualifier against Jamaica. The Revolution said Bengston trained with the team upon his return in a statement, though they did no comment on whether or not he made the trip to Vancouver...Bengston has been in a scoring drought, netting just one goal in 11 appearances this season...Bengston has been on the bench while Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, and Saer Sene have all earned starts in his place...The US women's national team play South Korea at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night at 7 PM...Boston Celtics Minority owner James Palotta-owned AS Roma named Frenchman Rudy Garcia their new coach on Thursday...The Boston Breakers will take on Sky Blue FC at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville , Mass on Sunday night at 6:30 PM.
Allston, Mass-The Revolution continued to roll on Wednesday night, defeating the New York Red Bulls 4-2 in the fourth round of the US Open Cup to advance to the quarterfinals where they will square off against DC United. A capacity crowd at Soldiers Field Stadium on the campus of Harvard University stood, sat, and squatted to watch the Revolution knockout the Red Bulls and extend their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions.
It's the farthest the Revolution have made it in the US Open Cup since reaching the semifinals in 2008.
Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps has a number of things to be happy about. For one, his team scored four goals. Kelyn Rowe was the offensive spearhead in the match, scoring twice against a formidable Red Bulls back line that included US national team defender Heath Pearce and MLS veterans Kosuke Kimura and Brandon Barklage.
"When he shoots in on goal, it's usually going in," said Heaps of Rowe. "He's got one of the best shots I've seen, right or left foot. He was fired up for tonight. Right from the open, his touch was on. His movement was good. His pressure was good. He had a nice night."
"It’s a lot about confidence," explained Rowe. "I’ve obviously grown in that aspect this year and it’s something that’s bringing my game out fully: taking players on, taking shots, giving players opportunities to score, other than myself. So I think it’s really grown in Boston into something good."
The Revolution also learned just how deep their roster really is. For one, many of the players continue to demonstrate their versatility. Against the Red Bulls, Kalifa Cisse, a natural midfielder, paired well with AJ Soares in defense. Meanwhile, Chad Barrett, normally a forward, helped the Revolution dominate in midfield by opening up space and setting up passing lanes.
Secondly, a deep roster is providing the Revolution with competition among the players on the roster. While the Revolution rested all of their starters ahead of a league match at Vancouver this Saturday, the team's back-ups did their part to earn the result. Andy Dorman bossed the midfield with Rowe and Barrett, earning his second consecuctive Open Cup start, while Darrius Barnes and Soares stayed one step ahead of New York's forwards for most of the evening in defense.
"There's going to be competition for every spot," acknowledged Heaps. "The best teams I've been on there's been competition. It's friendly competition. But when they get on a field like this and perform it makes the coaches have to make tough decisions."
After the game, Red Bulls Head Coach Mike Petke called the Revolution "a mediocre team." But the Revolution's recent run suggests that they are ready to assert themselves as one of the country's best teams.
"By the scorelines you see it yourself, we're one of the top teams in the country," said Rowe. "Not just with this game, but with league games as well. We're a team to be reckoned with."
If the Revolution can maintain their form, a quarterfinal match at DC, who have the league's worst overall and defensive record, shouldn't be too rocky a stepping stone to the semifinals. And with most of their starters rested and fresh for a tough match-up against Vancouver this weekend, the Revolution are positioned to compete for another positive league result on the road.
"We want to be able to keep going and right now, we’re on the streak where we haven’t lost," finished Rowe. "That’s a big thing for us right now, that streak of not losing, but we want to get that win. Three points on the road in Vancouver would be great for us."
The US national team have hit a stroke of consistency this June, as they extended their winning streak to three games on Tuesday night in Seattle when they defeated Panama 2-0 in a World Cup qualifying match in front of over 40,000 at CenturyLink Field. The win puts the US in first place in North America's World Cup qualifying-Hexagonal with just five games left, their next match against Honduras on June 18 in Salt Lake City.
The US looked like they were in full command for the entire match against Panama. Jozy Altidore tapped in a cross from the left flank from Fabian Johnson in the 35th minute to open the scoring, while Eddie Johnson ran in behind Panama's defense to collect a long ball by Geoff Cameron and fire in the deciding goal in the 53rd minute. And Tim Howard, along with the US' four-man back line, preserved their second shutout of the Hexagonal.
While Panama, who now sit second to last in the final qualifying round, aren't exactly the fiercest test for the Americans, the US put together a rare, complete-game performance on both sides of the ball to preserve a key result.
With the kick-off to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil less than a year away, US Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann entered the summer months with some headaches. Players anonymously told Sporting News that they questioned his ability as national team coach. His team was struggling to be consistent. A goal scorer was nowhere in sight. Critics bashed Klinsmann for not calling up former captain Carlos Bocanegra or Landon Donovan, the US' all-time leading scorer.
Klinsmann and the US have responded to each of the issues beautifully, with their latest victory over Panama the most recent shred of proof that they're on the right track. A switch seemed to flick after the US defeated second-ranked Germany on June 2, 4-3, in Washington DC. The confidence from that result carried into a 2-1 victory over Jamaica last Friday and then Panama.
On paper, the US have talented players capable of qualifying for the World Cup. But with this new-found confidence and the consistency Klinsmann's uncovered with his team, the US may be able to go further--in style.
There are two changes on the field that have begun to make the Klinsmann era fruitful. One is the central defense pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, two MLS defenders who have 18 international appearances between the two of them. Though both have experienced some growing pains against the higher echelons of soccer they see with the national team, the duo has been able to get key results on the road against Mexico, Jamaica, and now at home against Panama. There's no space for Bocanegra.
The other major change is the arrival of a goal scorer in Jozy Altidore. Altidore is now on a three-game scoring streak with the national team, which is big news for Klinsmann considering less than a month ago there were concerns over which player he would turn to for goals. The good news is that it doesn't look like Altidore will run into a scoring drought any time soon. The juggernaut-like forward finished his season with AZ Alkmaar of the Dutch Eredivisie with 23 goals, the fourth most in the league. Stand-by, Landon Donovan.
With the US clicking, the top spot in this final stage of World Cup qualifying is theirs to lose. But the US will be greatly helped by the fact that three of their final five qualifiers are at home. Two more wins may be enough for the US to book their tickets to the World Cup, with the top three finishers in the Hexagonal earning automatic berths to Brazil.
The US should continue cruising as they enter their game against Honduras next Tuesday, though the momentum may fade away by the time their next qualifiers pop up in September. But if Klinsmann can isolate what specific things have his team on a roll, there should be no issue getting the US to perform at their peak through the remainder of the qualifiers, at the World Cup, and beyond.
Using Harvard University's Soldiers Field as a home venue for a third round US Open Cup game against the New York Red Bulls could backfire on the Revolution when the two teams clash on Wednesday night.
Historically speaking, the Revolution, who are 9-4 all-time in US Open Cup home games, struggle more when they don't play their home games at their natural venue. The Revolution are 5-1 in US Open Cup home games at either Gillette Stadium or the old Foxborough Stadium, but an unconvincing 4-3 when they've played their home games at either Lusitano Field in Ludlow, Mass. or New Britain Veterans Stadium in Connecticut.
The Revolution have never played at Harvard before, though choosing it as a venue for Wednesday night's game makes a victory over New York much less secure. Soldiers Field, a brand new, 2,500-seat stadium, won't provide the Revolution with the same home atmosphere and familiarity as Gillette Stadium, where the Red Bulls haven't won since 2001.
Despite this being an elimination match that could potentially lead to a cash prize and a spot in next year's CONCACAF Champions League, both teams may choose to rest some key players. Though the odds of Thierry Henry playing are low, as he has yet to play in the Open Cup and rarely makes away trips to New England.
Meanwhile, the Revolution will likely start Matt Reis in goal over Bobby Shuttleworth, who has become the regular between the pipes. The Revolution also re-called Gabe Latigue and Tyler Polak from their affiliate in Rochester, meaning the two could see significant playing time in place of regular starters.
From a non-competitive standpoint, Soldiers Field is a suitable location. Both Revolution General Manager Mike Burns and Club President Brian Bilello have cited the ability to bring the team closer to the Boston area as a reason for playing at Harvard. It's a move that the Revolution have tried to do before with supporters in Connecticut, playing games just outside Hartford.
Should the Revolution defeat the Red Bulls, they will move on to the quarterfinals, where they will travel to play either DC United or the Philadelphia Union. The Revolution could make Gillette Stadium their natural home venue by the semifinals if they make it that far, according to Burns.
The one-two punch made up of their creative offense and their stingy defense didn't show up for the Revolution on Saturday night, as they settled for a 0-0 draw against DC United. The defense extended its shutout streak to 395 minutes and Bobby Shuttleworth notched his fourth consecutive clean sheet, his seventh this season, but DC United, who entered the game with the league's worst defensive record, kept the Revolution's offense off the scoreboard for the first time since May 2.
"I know there are nights you can’t find the back of the net like tonight," explained Revolution coach Jay Heaps. "Our final pass was a little bit off, our spacing was a little too tight and DC, once we got in their final third, they were bending not breaking. I think they did a nice job keeping us out of there half."
The result places the Revolution (5-4-5, 20 points), who also extend their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions, two points out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Revolution had the better chances throughout the game, shooting on target more often that their opponents. Aside from a shot that DC's Nick DeLeon put wide of the far post on a breakaway in the eighth minute, the Revolution dominated the first half.
Diego Fagundez, who saw his four-game scoring streak come to an end, played Lee Nguyen into the penalty area in the 18th minute. Nguyen cut past the defender, looked up, and then right-footed a drive just over the crossbar.
In the 20th minute, the Revolution appeared to take the lead off a play by Saer Sene. Juan Toja crossed into the penalty area from the right flank, the ball deflecting off of Juan Agudelo's head as he beat Ethan White to the ball. Sene took control of the ball on the left side of the box and volleyed the ball into the back of the net past DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
The crowd erupted. "The Boys are back" by the Dropkick Murphys, the Revolution's goal song, began playing in the stadium. The end zone militia, who fire their guns whenever the Revolution score, pulled the triggers on their muskets. But as soon as the ball went in the net and the commotion started, referee Ted Unkel called off the goal because he ruled that Agudelo committed a foul while challenging for the ball.
"It was fifty-fifty," explained Agudelo of the play. "We went up for the ball together. I didn't feel like I pushed him off that hard. Maybe it should have been a goal."
"I'm pissed off," admitted Agudelo when asked about the result. "I'm pretty pissed off."
Hamid helped spoil Agudelo and the Revolution's offensive endeavors. He finished the game with four saves, bailing out DC after the Revolution amped up the pressure in the aftermath of having a goal disallowed.
His first big stop came off a first-time shot by Toja in the 31st minute from the top of the box which he palmed over the crossbar. Fagundez tested him again in the 66th minute, dribbling down the spine of DC's midfield and defense before firing a bullet from outside the penalty area that Hamid tipped over the crossbar.
On the ensuing corner kick, Chris Tierney hit the right post after firing a drive from inside the penalty area.
Lee Nguyen (88th minute) and Kelyn Rowe (90th minute), both had late efforts knocked away by Hamid as well.
"When you give Bill Hamid the right cover like that, he is going to bail you out," said Heaps of Hamid's performance. "Not that he had to bail them out: he made two really good saves and I thought they deserved a point."
Shuttleworth agrees with Heaps that Hamid was the key difference-maker for DC.
Obviously, we are disappointed [with the result]," Shuttleworth added. "We had the chances to get three [points]. Credit to [Hamid]. I thought he played really well. Obviously [we’re] disappointed but we’ve got to keep moving on.
Shuttleworth had to make just one save, knocking away a low drive by Chris Pontius in the 28th minute. The Revolution defense helped Shuttleworth as well, though both parties were helped in great deal by an abysmal DC offense which put just one of 12 goal scoring opportunities on target.
With finishing like that, it's no wonder DC also entered the game with the league's worst offensive record. But the Revolution defense, as expected, handled DC's strikers with care and delivered a positive a result.
"Every time we step on the field we want to get the shutout, we want to keep the zero," finished Shuttleworth. "The guys have been really, really good. The back line has been super organized like I said. The shape has been good throughout the entire season."
We didn’t lose right? We got the draw, so it’s not a good result for us, but it’s not a loss."
Not matching the defense's production is something the offense will want to avoid doing a second time. The Revolution back line has been solid all season long, but had extra pressure at the beginning of the year when the offense was struggling to score goals. The offense-defense, one-two punch needs to be in full swing if the Revolution hope to solidify their spot in the playoff chase.
"We let [the defense] down today," concluded Agudelo. "They did their job and did not let up any goals...Today the defense was better than [the offense]. We need to be better and I feel like we need to apologize to our defense for working so hard."
The Revolution return to action on Wednesday for an Open Cup game against the New York Red Bulls at Harvard. They then travel to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps on Saturday.
Outlook: Revolution: The Revolution should be disappointed for not being able score, let alone beat, DC United, who entered the game with the league's worst overall and defensive record. They extend their unbeaten run to six games in all competition, but they blew a perfect opportunity to go into a tie for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference...DC: DC will be relieved that their goalkeeper kept them in the game, but a draw is a meh result for a team deep in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Their focus now should be more to put on a good show than anything else, especially since their odds of making the playoffs are astronomically low.
FINAL: REVOLUTION 0, DC UNITED 0
90th minute- Farrell feeds Rowe, who fires a shot at goal that's knocked away by Hamid. 0-0.
88th minute- Nguyen shoots from just inside the box but Hamid knocks it away, diving right. 0-0.
70th minute- Former Revolution midfielder Sainey Nyassi replaces John Thorrington for DC.
66th minute- Fagundez dribbles down the spine of the DC midfield and fires a shot at goal, which Hamid tips over the bar. On the ensuing play, Tierney hits the post. 0-0.
65th minute- Chad Barrett on for Toja.
54th minute- Kelyn Rowe replaces Sene for the Revolution. 0-0.
46th minute- And we're off!
31st minute- Agudelo dribbles through some DC defenders on the left side of the penalty area and lays it off to Toja, whose first-time shot is palmed over the bar by Hamid. 0-0.
28th minute- Shuttleworth makes his first save, stopping a low drive by Chris Pontius. 0-0.
22nd minute- Revolution starting to take control of the game. Sene runs at the DC back line and fires from 30 yards, just over the crossbar. 0-0.
20th minute- No goal. Foul called on Agudelo as Saer Sene bangs one into the net. 0-0.
18th minute- Fagundez slips a ball to Nguyen, who whistles one just over the crossbar. 0-0.
15th minute- So far a very sloppy start to the game. Neither team really creating much. 0-0.
8th minute- DC's DeLeon gets into the penalty area and fires just wide of the far post. 0-0.
5th minute- Revolution don't make the most out of an early freekick. Both teams feeling each other out in midfield in the early goings here. 0-0.
1st minute- And we're off!
Starting Lineups: New England- GK: Shuttleworth; D: Farrell, Goncalves, McCarthy, Tierney; M- Nguyen, Caldwell, Toja, Fagundez, Sene; F- Agudelo...DC- GK: Hamid; D- Korb, White, Woolard, Riley; M- Porter, Kitchen, Thorrington, DeLeon, Pontius; F- Ruiz
"Syd LeRoux, we stand with you," was chanted by a sellout crowd at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, Mass in the second minute of Wednesday night's game between the Boston Breakers and Western New York Flash. It was a gesture of support to LeRoux, who wears number two for Boston, because she has been the subject of verbal and racial abuse from some Canadian soccer fans since she switched ties from Canada to the US women's national team.
Tension rose between LeRoux and some Canadian fans after she celebrated her goal in the US' 3-0 victory over Canada last Saturday in Toronto by shushing the Canadian crowd and flaunting her USA jersey.
The display caused some Canadians to take to twitter and launch more racial slurs. On Monday, LeRoux responded, via social media, tweeting, "When you chant racial slurs, taunt me and talk about my family don't be mad when I shush you and show pride in what I represent" and ended the statement with the hashtag "America."
LeRoux, who was born in Surrey, Canada, has a Canadian mother and an American father which made her eligible to represent either nation. And though she played for the Canadian U-20 national team in 2004, she switched to the US U-20s in 2008. She became officially cap tied to the US when she made her first appearance with the senior team during the qualification process for the 2012 Olympics.
But some Canadian fans didn't only use LeRoux's goal last Saturday as an opportunity to taunt the former Maple Leaf. LeRoux has had to endure a series of abusive personal and racial remarks both on the field and online since 2008.
LeRoux did not do any one-on-one interviews following Wednesday night's Breakers game, though she did release a statement which said that her goal celebration during the Canada friendly was "in the heat of the moment." The US Soccer Federation put forward a statement too, revealing that her tweet actually referred to racial slurs during the Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver in January 2012. The Federation also noted that at the time, LeRoux chose not to address the remarks.
It's not uncommon for a player to choose to represent a nation they weren't born in. In fact, Anna Picarelli, who was born in California and played goalkeeper for Pepperdine University, was snubbed by the US national team and opted instead to play for Italy. New Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi plays for Italy as well and has actually scored twice against the US men's national team in a 3-1 win in the 2009 Confederations Cup.
So rules are in place for LeRoux to switch ties. What's baffling is that members of her home crowd in Vancouver (her birthplace of Surrey is less than 20 miles from Vancouver) would take to verbal abuse, no matter how displeased they were to see that one of the world's best young strikers would no longer represent Canada.
What's more surprising is that FIFA, soccer's international governing body, hasn't made a statement regarding the situation. Aside from soccer, FIFA's main concern seems to be eliminating racism around the globe. In the past, they have stepped in to defend players and fans against racism and have always advocated for the importance of human rights.
One problem is that FIFA only deals with formalities. Unless there is an official petition or request, the governing body will rarely get involved, whether that involves the rules of soccer, scheduling, or appeals. The fact that FIFA has not yet even made a statement begs the question of whether they keep an eye on such egregious displays.
If FIFA needs to be alerted in order to step in, something has to change. If the world's premier governing body truly wants to expel racism from soccer and beyond, they need to jump on every case as it crops up and dish out penalties. As it stands, it doesn't appear possible for FIFA to keep an eye on all of its 208 member nations that compete in its events.
In 2012, the International Olympic Committee should have stepped in on behalf of LeRoux and US Soccer, even if no formal complaint was made, as the qualifiers were its events. While FIFA recognizes Olympic events, it wasn't necessarily their administrative responsibility to get involved. But considering last Saturday's friendly was presided over by FIFA, the aftermath of the game should have elicited some kind of response.
In regards to the Olympic qualifiers, the Canadian Soccer Federation reiterated that neither LeRoux nor the US Soccer Federation filed a report. They also said they support fair play and do not tolerate any form of disrespect and are asking all Canadian soccer fans "to hold themselves to the same standards."
Meanwhile, LeRoux continues to be a scoring threat for the Breakers. She scored the Breakers' second goal against the Flash on Wednesday, firing a cannon from eighteen yards out for her league-leading fifth goal of the season.
"Scoring is my favorite thing in the world," said LeRoux, who will be part of the US team that will play South Korea on June 15 at Gillette Stadium. "Of course it made me feel a lot better. It has been a tough week, but the amount of support from fans, and from my teammates, and from US Soccer has been amazing."
Revolution star Diego Fagundez, who was named Major League Soccer's player of the week on Monday, will join us at noon on Friday for a soccer chat. The Revolution are on a roll heading into Saturday's game vs. DC United, and Fagundez has a four-game scoring streak going.
Get your questions ready.
Beating top teams is something that the US national team has done repeatedly over the years. So it was fitting that last Saturday, for the celebration of US Soccer's 100 year anniversary, that the US national team emerged victorious against second-ranked Germany, 4-3, at RFK Stadium in DC.
Our Nation's Capital: a fitting setting for a team that needed to be reminded of where its revolutionary character to beat the odds comes from ahead of three important World Cup qualifiers this month against Jamaica, Panama, and Mexico.
Given that it's in their character, not just as international athletes but as Americans, it's a wonder why the US needed a reminder that they can compete with any team in the world. Perhaps it was because just five days before the US ousted Germany, they suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss to Belgium.
The Belgium result questioned US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's choices in defense and whether or not many of the European-based were too burnt out to play for the national team in the summer after long club seasons. It also raised doubts as to whether the US, if ever, could compete with the world's best teams.
Saturday's win against Germany was a reminder that the US certainly can. While the US blew a 4-1 lead late in the game thanks to some poor defensive play, the offense lifted up the floodgates for the first time in over a decade. It was the first time that the US scored three or more goals against a team ranked in the top ten since defeating Portugal 3-2 at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.
Yes, Germany did not bring their best team to play against the US. Yes, none of Germany's regular starters who play for Champions League winners Bayern Munich and runners-up Borussia Dortmund were part of the roster. But the fact is Germany's development of players is still far more advanced and sophisticated than the US'. And while the result was a product of play that was more sloppy than tactical, the fact that the US could put four goals past the Germans was a statement.
In the lead-up to the game, there were concerns over who the US' goalscorers would be and whether players like Jozy Altidore could replicate their form at the club level in international games. Altidore answered the call in the 13th minute when he volleyed home the opening score of the game. He then assisted on one of Clint Dempsey's two goals.
The result will provide the US with some momentum ahead of a qualifying game against Jamaica on June 7 in Kingston. But the US should be able to look back and realize that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone and use that as a cornerstone of confidence.
The US' 1-0 win over England at the 1950 World Cup and their 1-0 win over Brazil in the 1998 Confederations Cup were hard fought victories, but they were mostly thought of as flukes at the time. But in recent years beating the world's best teams has gone from being accidental into turning into a habit.
There was the 3-2 victory over Portugal in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup and then the 2-0 victory over Mexico in the round of 16. In 2009, the "miracle on grass," consisting of the US beating top-ranked Spain in the Confederations Cup 2-0 to clinch a spot in the tournament's final occured.
In the Klinsmann era, the US earned their first-ever win against Italy, 1-0, last March and their first-ever win over Mexico at the Azteca Stadium last August.
Over the years, the US have consistently earned results against other well-rounded teams such as Denmark, Sweden, Australia, England, Argentina, Ecuador, Poland, and Japan.
Having a mentality that they can beat anyone will propel the US to qualify for the World Cup next summer in Brazil. And if winning continues to be a habit, it won't be long before the US earns their keep as one of the top countries in world soccer and retains that reputation for ages to come.
The Revolution made a very loud statement on Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 5-0 at Gillette Stadium in front of 19,120 and extended their winning streak to four games in all competitions. Saer Sene, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, Chad Barrett, and Kelyn Rowe all found the back of the net for the Revolution's first win by a five-goal margin since a 6-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 18, 2004.
The defending league champions were without starters Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez, key players who are away for World Cup qualifiers with their respective national teams. The Revolution took advantage of the depleted Galaxy (6-5-2, 20 points), who seemed lethargic as they failed to defend Fagundez throughout the game.
Fagundez was the difference-maker, running the Revolution's (5-4-4, 19 points) offense and setting up two of their goals in addition to scoring his team-leading fifth goal of the season and extending his scoring streak to four games.
"We're on a winning streak right now and I think everyone in this locker room wanted it more than they did," said Fagundez after the game. "You can't say anything bad about them, they're the defending champs. They played a good first half, they kept on attacking and attacking. But as soon as we scored that first goal, we kept attacking. We were doing everything we could to win the game."
Fagundez was the match that lit the Revolution's offensive fuse, combining with Sene for the first goal after the Galaxy controlled the opening half hour. In the 34th minute, Sene made a run down the right flank, passed to an open Fagundez, and continued his run unmarked into the penalty area. Fagundez then returned the ball to Sene, who fired past Carlo Cudicini for his first goal of the season.
"That touch to Saer [Sene] was one of the best touches of the game," said Revolution coach Jay Heaps of Fagundez.
"You can see he was putting the ball exactly where he wanted it and sliding off defenders."
The Galaxy, who owned the possession battle and created a slew of chances in the first half, entered the second half with high pressure on the Revolution's back line as they searched for an equalizer. But Fagundez would again thwart the Galaxy, as he helped the Revolution tally a second goal, again against the run of play.
It started In the 71st minute, Landon Donovan dragged down Andrew Farrell and the Revolution was awarded a freekick on the right flank. But the Galaxy disagreed with the call and argued with referee Fotis Bazakos. While the Galaxy players were in the midst of a protest, Fagundez took the freekick and played Lee Nguyen at the top of the penalty area, who took a touch and fired a low, hard drive through the legs of Galaxy defender Tommy Meyer and into the goal to double the Revolution's lead.
"He created the first two goals," added Heaps. "Setting up Lee [Nguyen], being smart, and playing quickly and taken advantage of an unset defense was a good job from him as well."
The Revolution's second goal left the Galaxy in shock as Donovan, who switched jerseys with Fagundez after the game, continued to argue with Bazakos after Nguyen scored. What happened next is something that Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena says he wants to pretend "never happened." The play that led to Nguyen's goal demoralized the Galaxy, who were already vulnerable to New England's counter attack with so many players forward trying to score.
In the 87th minute, Fagundez capitalized on the space the Galaxy were leaving open in their third of the field. He tore through the Galaxy back line, finishing a give-and-go with Rowe by confidently pounding the ball past Cudicini and into the net for the three goal advantage.
"My confidence just keeps going higher and higher," said Fagundez of his performance against the Galaxy. "The more minutes I get, the more confidence I get. Every goal I get, the more it helps out the team."
Fagundez was substituted out for former Los Angeles Galaxy forward Chad Barrett in the 88th minute. Barrett tacked on another goal just two minutes after coming on, early in second half stoppage time. Barrett collected a pass from Rowe at the top of the penalty area and then belted a shot into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
"I had a great two years [with the Galaxy]," said Barrett, who made his first appearance since March 30. "I was happy and thankful to get in today. To get the goal, my very first of the year, was very important to me. It didn't matter that it was against the Galaxy."
Barrett returned the favor when he set up Rowe for the fifth goal moments later. Rowe fired from 25 yards out, his shot beating Cudicini to the lower right corner of the net.
"I saw that we didn't have much time left," explained Rowe. "Might as well just take a hit. Chad told me he'd give me one back and he did, really quickly."
"More people need to put me on their fantasy teams," Barrett joked of his late-game contributions.
In the opening half hour, it didn't appear as though the Galaxy would leave Gillette Stadium with a 5-0 loss. They tested the Revolution back line early and often. Shuttleworth tipped three shots over the crossbar in the early minutes, stopping bids from Marcelo Sarvas (3rd), Juninho (9th), and Donovan (23rd).
Shuttleworth finished the game with six saves to preserve his sixth shutout of the season. Meanwhile, the Revolution's back line has notched its eighth clean sheet and has the league's best defensive record, having allowed the fewest number of goals (9).
It’s just repetition [making six saves]," explained Shuttleworth. "I’ve gotten a bunch of starts in a row now so I feel sharper. With every start, I’m getting more experience and learning and picking up different things."
This result puts the Revolution in a tie with the Philadelphia Union for the fifth and final playoff spot. While Philadelphia is technically ahead of New England since they've scored more goals this season, the Revolution can leap frog the Union soon since they have one game in hand.
The Revolution's next test is against last place DC United at Gillette Stadium on June 8. After dismantling the Galaxy with five goals and a shutout, the expectation is that the Revolution exploit a very weak team at home and continue their climb up the standings.
"We are going to prepare for D.C. the same way we did for LA: the same intensity, the same detail, like I said it is another chance to take three [points]," finished Heaps. "It is another stepping-stone going towards making the playoffs. We’re aware of how desperate D.C. is going to be and we will be prepared for that."
FINAL- REVOLUTION 5, LOS ANGELES GALAXY 0 Attendance: 19120
90th minute stoppage time- GOAL REVOLUTION! Kelyn Rowe scores from long range to make it 5-0.
90th minute stoppage time- GOAL REVOLUTION! Chad Barrett scores his first ever Revolution goal--against his former club. Rowe crosses to an open Barrett, who finishes easily past Carlo Cudicini. 4-0 Revolution.
90th minute- Bobby Shuttleworth makes two saves in a minute. He's been excellent today, quietly helping the Revolution keep their eighth clean sheet of the season.
88th minute- Fagundez comes off for Chad Barrett.
87th minute- GOAL REVOLUTION! Diego Fagundez tears apart the Galaxy defense, combining with Kelyn Rowe for his fifth goal of the season. 3-0 Revolution.
71st minute- REVOLUTION GOAL! Lee Nguyen cuts past is defender, enters the penalty area, and buries a shot into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
66th minute- Robbie Rodgers come on to replace Michael Stephens. He's the first openly gay athlete to play at Gillette Stadium.
65th minute- As Sene comes off for Jerry Bengston, the Revolution look like the better team. They still lead 1-0.
57th minute- Revolution substitution: Kelyn Rowe comes in for Juan Toja. Revolution lead 1-0.
53rd minute- Big midfield battle to start the second half. Both teams feeling each other out. Revolution lead 1-0.
46th minute- And we're off! Revolution lead 1-0 to start the second half.
Halftime. Revolution 1, Los Angeles 0
45th minute- As halftime approaches, the Revolution have definitely turned it on since scoring. They are no longer second best and are creating some nice chances. 1-0 Revolution.
34th minute- GOAL REVOLUTION! Very much against the run of play! Saer Sene scores, off a one-two with Diego Fagundez, burying a shot past Carlo Cudicini in the lower left corner of the net. 1-0 Revolution.
27th minute- Revolution getting out-classed at the moment. A Galaxy goal seems imminent. 0-0.
20th minute- Galaxy still look like the better team, but the Revolution are finally putting up a fight in midfield. 0-0.
15th minute- Stephen McCarthy's header goes just wide of goal. New England's first good chance. 0-0.
9th minute- The Revolution are on the back foot early. So far, three good shots on goal by the Galaxy. 0-0.
2nd minute- Zardes gets in behind the defense and fires into the side netting. Dangerous moment for the Revolution. 0-0.
1st minute- And we're off!
Lineups- New England: GK- Shuttleworth; D- Tierney, McCarthy, Goncalves, Farrell; M- Fagundez, Caldwell, Nguyen; F- Sene, Agudelo, Toja...Los Angeles: GK- Cudicini; D- Cochrane, DelaGarza, Meyer, Franklin; M- Stephens, Juninho, Stephens, Jimenez; F- Donovan, Zardes
With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just over one year away, the US still doesn't know who to turn to for goals and has some holes to plug up in defense. That much continued to be clear on Wednesday night, when the US fell 4-2 to Belgium in an international friendly in Cleveland.
While the friendly (and another exhibition game against Germany on June 2 in Washington DC) was a tune-up for three World Cup qualifiers in June, it was also a chance for the US to see how they match up against one of the best teams in the world. Belgium brought their A-team to Cleveland save for Chelsea striker Eden Hazard, and put on an offensive clinic against a US defense that made error after error.
From a mental standpoint, allowing four goals isn't ideal going into a difficult game against Germany and three important World Cup qualifiers. Developmentally, US Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann got to give a slew of young players much-needed experience at the international level.
“Obviously a negative result, but I think an important game because it gets us right in our toes now. We know where players are, and we had to jump start these three and a half weeks, having guys come in on Sunday and Monday and throw them into a game right away."
"There’s a lot we can learn from these opponents. This is why we play teams like Belgium, like Germany...there’s so much that you can read from those games. Obviously you want to win them and when you lose them it’s not such a big pleasure, but I’d rather play Belgium 10 more times than El Salvador 100 times because that’s where you learn."
The US' best options at outside back are all injured, forcing Klinsmann to go with DaMarcus Beasley, who earned his 100th cap in the loss, to play left back while Geoff Cameron slotted in at right back. Meanwhile, Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez combined in central defense.
The back line had a bumpy ride from the opening minutes.
In the 7th minute, Romelu Lukaku ran into the penalty area in behind the defense, forcing US goalkeeper Tim Howard to swipe the ball away from his cleats. But Howard's clearance fell to Kevin Mirallas, who chipped into the vacated net for the early lead.
A five-man US midfield went toe-to-toe with Belgium all game long and created an equalizer in the 23rd minute. Clint Dempsey redirected a corner kick by Brad Davis to the back post, where Cameron jumped over his defender and headed the ball into the net for his first career international goal.
Brad Guzan replaced Howard in net at halftime, while the gun-shy Jozy Altidore was subbed out for Eddie Johnson. Guzan could do little to prevent Belgium from scoring three second half goals, while Johnson provided virtually no response.
In the 56th minute, Gonzalez made an errant back pass to Kevin de Bruyne, who collected the ball on the right side of the penalty area and passed to an open Christian Benteke. Benteke poked the ball into the back of the net past a helpless Guzan to restore Belgium's lead.
Marouane Fellaini made it 3-1 by heading another cross by de Bruyne into the goal, his sixth career international goal. Next, Benteke sealed the victory for Belgium with a second goal in the 72nd minute, going in behind the defense and chipping the ball over the head of Guzan to make it 4-1.
"We want to see how all the goals developed and what mistakes were made because there’s always a series of mistakes leading to goals," added Klinsmann. "We’ll want to analyze that and then we’ll have a better judgment, but I think it’s clear when you have players like Benteke, Lukaku, and Fellaini, the attacking players that have that vision on the field and think two steps ahead, that is the thought process that is so important for our players to learn. I think for them it was really important to see.
The US grabbed a consolation goal in the 80th minute through Dempsey, who converted from the penalty spot after the referee called a handball in Belgium's penalty area.
Every one of the US' goals was preventable, meaning the likes of Gonzalez need to be more aware in future competitive matches where the stakes are higher. Much of the US' defensive woes are also due to the fact that Klinsmann has midfielders playing as outside backs while regular starters nurse their injuries.
“We obviously at this level we need to tighten up," added Howard. "I think anybody would tell you that. Most of the teams are going to come up with fire power, so it’s on us to put the other team on our terms defensively. We should be dictating that. Our line of confrontation, our pressure on and off the ball, whether our back line drops or steps up, those are all things that dictate the tempo of the game.”
The defense needs time.
The offense needs a major face-lift.
Aside from his goal from the penalty spot, Dempsey struggled to make a difference in the run of play. Neither Altidore nor Johnson were the poachers they needed to be for the US to score a goal and more often than not just one player was in the penalty area when either Davis or Graham Zusi crossed the ball from the flank.
In their last five games, the US have shot on goal just seven times from the run of play. Against Belgium, it was obvious that the US midfield, while capable of maintaining possession and getting the ball into the penalty area, was victimized by forwards who could not shoot on sight. It's an issue that has plagued Klinsmann and the US since the beginning of this World Cup cycle.
“We talked about that before the game," explained Klinsmann. Here and there we always look for the complicated ball into Jozy, into Eddie Johnson, and into Clint instead of just carrying it through the midfield, just playing it to people’s feet, moving off the ball and keeping it simple. We made it a little too difficult for ourselves there, and if we do that than people get insecure and the passing gets insecure."
Young players like New England's Juan Agudelo, DC United's Chris Pontius, and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski may all be viable options to jump-start the US attack should Altidore and Johnson not produce in the next month. The eventual return of Landon Donovan should also provide Klinsmann with an offensive boost.
But for now, the current crew of American players needs to put this loss behind them re-focus for Germany, and then be ready for qualification games against Jamaica, Honduras, and Mexico.
At the time of the last World Cup, Belgium were ranked 59th in the world and finished a mediocre fourth place in their qualification group. When the US hosts them for a friendly in Cleveland on Wednesday night, much will have changed.
Belgium, who are currently atop their qualification group and ranked 15th in the world, have floated into the 2014 World Cup cycle very much under the radar. Their players are some of the most coveted talents in all of Europe. And their head coach, Marc Wilmots, has brought Belgium's best to face the US.
The core of Belgium's players, which competes across Europe's top leagues, has made the leap from developing to flourishing. Each of Belgium's stars seem to have sprung up and found success at the same exact time, making their national team formidable when all the players come together in unison.
''They have top-class players,'' Klinsmann said. ''And they will have a team that will give us a tough test - and that's what we need.''
Belgium's best instruments are Marouane Fellaini, who orchestrates the midfield and makes darting runs into the attack. He has a bushel of offensive options in front of him, including some of the English Premier League's best young forwards like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Christian Benteke.
The defense is the best it has ever been for the Belgians. Daniel Van Buyten, who won Champions League with Bayern Munich last week, anchors the back line along with Premier League defensive sages Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, and Thomas Vermaelen.
''They're great tests,'' added Clint Dempsey, who is teammates with Vertonghen and midfielder Moussa Dembele at Tottenham. ''Belgium is leading its group in World Cup qualifying and they have a lot of young, up-and coming talent playing on some of the best teams in the world."
While the US' roster doesn't include as many players plying their trade for Europe's top teams, Klinsmann has been able to get the most out of his players against some of the best teams in the world. A young back line that includes Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler and Los Angeles Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez kept Mexico off the scoresheet in the US' last qualifier in Mexico City.
The US' roster also features three players who competed in Champions League this year in Michael Parkhurst, Jermaine Jones, and Sacha Kljestan, who also won the Belgian title this year with Anderlecht.
Other European-based players like Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard have progressed immensely in the last World Cup cycle. Dempsey scored the game winner in the US' first ever victory against Italy last March, while Bradley netted the tying goal versus Russia this past November.
But perhaps the most intriguing part of this friendly is that it's a battle between two up and coming teams. There's an interesting dichotomy: Belgium hasn't reached the World Cup since 2002 but has players who compete for some of the world's best teams while the US has been in every World Cup since 1990 but has players still clawing their way into the upper echelons of world soccer.
It's a testament to the two countries' different routes toward qualification, no doubt, but it's also evidence of two different philosophies for turning into one of the world's best teams.
So while this friendly is supposed to be the US' tune-up for three World Cup qualifiers taking place in June, it will also be a measure of how the Yanks match-up against not just a top team, but one that is curiously in the same boat.
''Facing Belgium at this stage allows us to get a couple answers in terms of where the players are at right now,'' Klinsmann finished, while also not downplaying the importance of their next qualifier against Jamaica on June 7.
''We need to ready for Jamaica,'' Klinsmann said, ''and we will be ready for Jamaica.''
The Revolution were all business on Tuesday night as they dismantled their affiliate, USL Pro's Rochester Rhinos, 5-1, at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester in the fourth round of the US Open Cup. The Revolution will play the winner of Wednesday night's clash between the New York Red Bulls and Reading United on June 12 at Harvard Stadium in the round of 16.
Of all the MLS teams opening up their US Open Cup campaigns, the Revolution were the most emphatic in sealing a result. Several second and third division teams upset MLS teams, including the Colorado Rapids, who were defeated 3-1 by Orlando City and Charlotte took out the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0.
While many second and third division teams are psyched-up for the Open Cup and even have players with former MLS experience, MLS teams are still the favorites in every match-up. So having a slew of lower division teams remaining in the bracket is advantageous for the Revolution and other MLS teams that are looking to lift the Open Cup and earn the automatic berth in CONCACAF Champions League and a $250,000 prize (the runner-up wins $100,000).
"We want to win," said Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps plainly at practice last week.
“There’s no question, we want to win the Open Cup. It’s an area where we want to do well,” he added. “You test your depth, you test your roster. For me, it actually comes at a good time because we’re talking about all those players who are chomping for opportunities. Nothing says an opportunity like an Open Cup game."
On Tuesday, a slew of Revolution players made their mark as they led the team to victory over Rochester and helped the club move one step closer to the Open Cup title.
Kelyn Rowe scored twice while Andy Dorman, Chad Barrett, and Jerry Bengston each netted one goal. Rochester's Kendell McFayden scored a consolation goal late in the game, but was also red-carded in second half stoppage time for a hard foul.
Heaps went with an offensive 4-3-3 formation, starting Barrett, Dimitry Imbongo, and Saer Sene as forwards. Barrett's goal was the first of his Revolution career while Bengston came on for Sene at halftime and scored his first goal for the Revolution since March 9. Dorman, who has seen playing time with the first team off the bench, scored his first goal since returning to the Revolution from abroad.
While winning is turning into a habit for the Revolution, who are now on a four-game unbeaten and a three-game winning run in all competitions, a 5-1 win against Rochester was not unexpected.
Though some lower division teams put up a fight against MLS teams, Rochester was never in a position to challenge the Revolution. The team is going through a transition due to the recent firing of their head coach and is currently sitting second to last in the 13-team USL Pro Standings.
Nevertheless, the winning will need to continue if the Revolution are going to win the title and return to the Champions League. Winning the US Open Cup is the most direct route for MLS teams to reach the Champions League, the other ways being win the MLS title, be runners-up for the MLS title, or be the league team with the most points by the end of the season.
The Revolution last won the US Open Cup in 2007. They haven't made it past the quarter-finals since, falling to Harrisburg City last year in their first game. Their next opponent, likely New York, will be the next step toward winning the title.
FOXBORO, MA- Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo continue to prove their value to the Revolution. Both players scored their fourth goals of the season on Saturday night as the Revolution defeated Toronto, 2-0, in a rain-soaked victory at Gillette Stadium in front of 10,711.
Fagundez scored first, volleying a cross from Chris Tierney into the lower left corner of the net in the 23rd minute. Agudelo sealed up the result in second half stoppage time, poking a short pass from Saer Sene into the back of the net following a play off a throw-in by Kelyn Rowe.
The win catapults the Revolution (4-4-4, 16 points) into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind the Philadelphia Union for the fifth and final playoff spot. The Revolution have also put together two consecutive multi-goal wins for the first time since April 2010.
"It's simply the hard work," explained Agudelo after the game. "Our defense is probably one of the best in the league. And now that we've been getting goals, we've been getting a lot of points lately. But most importantly there are a lot of players that are helping us create those chances.
The Agudelo-Fagundez combination, which has now played together in two consecutive games, continues to impress. The two are most definitely in the best form of any forwards on the team. Both players seem to work well together and are starting to form a partnership, something the Revolution has not had in the offense in recent years.
But the partnership between both players is developing through their relationship both on and off the field. Off the field, the two have lockers next to each other in the Revolution locker room and converse in Spanish. On the field, they have a similar fast, dynamic way of getting into the penalty area and finishing chances.
"It all starts because we both speak Spanish," explained Fagundez. "When we work together we try to communicate with each other. That's why we're going positive. We need to keep talking an communicating.
The two often switched places on the field against Toronto and last week in a 2-0 win against Houston. It's a tactic which continues to confuse opposing back lines.
"The play unfolds and I'll be like 'Juan, Juan go on the other side."' explained Fagundez. "Or if I see him on the other side, we'll just switch."
"I like it a lot," continued Fagundez. "You don't have just one side to play on the whole game. You can move around and test the defenders. If you play 90 against defenders, you can switch it up so they get confused."
Revolution Coach Jay Heaps has been waiting for the offense to click. The signing of Agudelo, plus the good run of form by Fagundez are an enormous part of the team's success, according to Heaps.
Fagundez has scored in three straight games, which coincidentally corresponds to the three-game unbeaten streak the Revolution have developed. In regards to Agudelo, Heaps is pleased with his performance on both sides of the ball.
"[With Diego] he's getting in good match-ups. He's an intuitive player...Diego is becoming a complete player. He's going forward and back. And the more he does defensively, the better he does offensively."
"Juan does everything for the team, the little things, the hard work, he's getting his toes in. His ability around the box shows you he's crafty and got good body control. That's what goal scorers do, they find a way, and he's doing it.
Fagundez and Agudelo are leaving fellow forwards Jerry Bengston, Chad Barrett, and Dimitry Imbongo in the dust. Sene has been in form too, though he is currently being used as an attacking midfielder off the bench. Meanwhile, Bengston will leave next week for World Cup qualifying duty with Honduras and won't see playing time again until late June, while Barrett has remained benched and Imbongo continues to be gun-shy when he plays.
So with the Revolution entering mid-season, plus starting their US Open Cup campaign on Tuesday at Rochester, Agudelo and Fagundez are the two forwards in the best form.
"Whatever it takes for us to get three points," concluded Agudelo. "Most importantly is getting the win. We're in a good run right now and we want to keep it going."
Outlook: Revolution- The Revolution extend their unbeaten streak to three games and are now just two points behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot. Consecutive scoring performances by Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo proves their value. Who are the Revolution without those two players right now?...Toronto: It continues to get worse for Toronto, who will remain just two points ahead of last place DC United in the conference standings. It doesn't look like they'll make the playoffs this year, either, even though 67% of the season still remains. Toronto may have to watch New England, Columbus, and Philadelphia duke it out for the fifth and final playoff spot this year.
FINAL- REVOLUTION 2, TORONTO 0
90th minute+- GOAL REVOLUTION! Juan Agudelo scores the second goal of his Revolution career by poking a feed from Saer Sene into the back of the net. 2-0 Revolution.
81st minute- The Revolution look to close this game out as Andy Dorman comes on for Scott Caldwell. Revolution lead 1-0.
72nd minute- Saer Sene comes on for Jerry Bengston. Revolution still lead 1-0.
60th minute- Lee Nguyen hits a shot from 22 yards out off the post and out. Still 1-0 to the Revolution.
51st minute- Toronto are showing more initiative to start the second half. Revolution need to be careful. Revs still lead 1-0.
46th minute- And we're off for the second half. Revolution lead 1-0.
45th minute- Toronto have a few chances, but it's really the Revolution who fully control this game. They lead 1-0 at the half.
37th minute- Revolution in full command. They aren't creating many chances, but they are totally dominating possession. Revolution lead 1-0.
23rd minute- Diego Fagundez scores! 1-0 Revolution. He volleys the ball into the back of the net off a long cross by Chris Tierney. It's Fagundez' fourth goal of the season. 1-0
21st minute- Nguyen gets into the box and pops a cross into the center of the penalty area for Agudelo, whose header is saved by Bendik. 0-0
15th minute- Stephen McCarthy soft back pass nearly leads to a Toronto goal. Shuttleworth stops shot from close range by Jeremy Brockie. 0-0
5th minute- Revolution trying to build up some attacks. Both teams really still feeling each other out though. 0-0
1st minute- And we're off. 0-0
Lineups: New England- GK Shuttleworth; D Farrell, Goncalves, McCarthy, Tierney; M Fagundez, Caldwell, Nguyen, Toja; F Bengston, Agudelo...Toronto- GK Bendik; D Henry, Earnshaw, Caldwell, O'Dea, Richter; M Lambe, Hall, Laba, Brockie; F Silva
He arrived last July from Motagua as the Revolution's third-ever Designated Player in the hope that he would be the scoring threat that the club needed. Eleven months, 22 games, and just three goals later, Jerry Bengston has been more miss than hit.
He's now been benched twice in a row after scoring just once in his first eight starts of the season. The Revolution's acquisition of Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez' current streak of good form, and the return of the dynamic Saer Sene from injury have all played a role in keeping the goal-starved Bengston on the bench.
But Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps still has faith in Bengston's scoring ability and is expecting the goals to come sooner or later.
"He wants more goals right now," said Heaps after a training session this week. "You can't tell a player 'you need to score goals.' If that was the case, every coach would tell every player to score goals."
"It's an art form. Sometimes you're in a groove, other times it's a little hard. It's a difficult part of the game and Jerry has shown he's really good at it. The more opportunities he gets, the more chances he'll get, and all it takes is one for him to get back into the fold."
Historically, the Revolution haven't had much success with players from Central and South America--especially attackers. Argenis Fernandez, Jose Manuel Abundis, Milton Caraglio, Ricardo Phillips, and Fernando Cardenas are all examples of talented players from south of the border who just didn't pan out for the Revolution.
Jose Cancela, who played with the Revolution from 2003 to 2006 and contributed seven goals and 27 assists, is by far the team's most successful capture in the Western Hemisphere.
With time and a little bit of patience, the Revolution are hoping that Bengston will be another success story. On paper, he's the right man for the job of scoring goals. He averages a goal every two games with the Honduran national team and had excellent scoring records with Vida and Motagua of Honduras' Liga Nacional.
When Bengston first arrived in New England, factors such as a new culture, not enough playing time with new teammates, and continuously being off with the Honduran national team prevented him from scoring on a consistent basis, as he finished the season with just two goals. For some inexplicable reason, the scoring drought has continued and Heaps and the Revolution staff have had to be patient.
Heaps' approach with Bengston is similar to the approach that former Revolution Head Coach Steve Nicol used with Taylor Twellman in the midst of his scoring droughts. Twellman, who retired with 101 regular season goals and one of America's best scoring records, tested Nicol's patience and confidence in 2004 when he opened the season with just one goal through the first 15 games of the season.
But Nicol knew that with the time, and perhaps a lucky bounce of the ball, Twellman would be back to his old scoring self. Heaps appears to be showing a similar confidence in Bengston, though he hasn't started him as consistently as Nicol started Twellman.
In 2004, the Revolution's best forwards were Twellman and Pat Noonan. The back-ups to either of those players were Felix Brilliant, who just didn't mesh well with the team, and Clint Dempsey, who at the time was more dangerous in midfield.
Today, the Revolution has a slew of options at forward, all of which can be dangerous for opposing teams. So while Heaps is confident in Bengston, that doesn't mean he needs to continue giving him starts and wait for the floodgates to re-open. It also appears that Heaps doesn't care who scores, so long as the ball goes in the opposing team's net.
"We want to be scoring more goals. It's not just one player or one position, it's the entire team that needs to score.
"There's no hidden agendas here. We play the guys that we feel are going to help us win games. We look at our lineup as a fluid process. It's not 'these are the starters.' We don't have depth charts. We look at match-ups, we look at chemistry. Guys have to be ready for their chance and take it when they get it."
Despite Bengston's low-scoring form with the Revolution, he has been called up again by the Honduran national team for a slew of World Cup Qualifiers between June 7 and 18 against Costa Rica, Jamaica, and the US. He currently leads Honduras with seven goals so far in qualification.
Heaps believes that Bengston's presence will be missed, even if he has scored just once this season.
"We don't want to lose any players," finished Heaps "Jerry is fortunate enough to be in the mix with the national team and that's a credit to the player he is."
A slew of Revolution players proved their right to earn starts in last Saturday's 2-0 victory away at the Houston Dynamo. The result, which was only Houston's second home loss in 38 games, occurred through the combination of the Revolution's best offensive and defensive efforts of the season.
Getting the Revolution to play a two-way, brick-wall defense and spear-headed offense has been like pulling teeth in the first third of the season. While their back line has consistently converged for one of the league's best defensive records, the Revolution attack has been half asleep, scoring just once through the first six games (not counting an own goal in a 4-1 loss to New York on April 20).
Last Saturday, with the help of some new and old faces, offense and defense went hand-in-hand to deliver Houston a crushing blow and keep the Revolution in the hunt for the fifth and final playoff spot with mid-season fast approaching.
Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo asserted themselves as the Revolution's best options for both scoring goals and creating chances. Fagundez opened up the scoring in the 51st minute for his third goal of the season, slipping past Houston's back line and into the penalty area where he finished easily past Tally Hall.
Fagundez' development has gone smoothly and his confidence is high as he now leads his team with three goals, though his recent form is a direct result of his motivation to be on the field and help the team succeed.
Agudelo is motivated too, but for different reasons. The freshly signed striker entered the game ready to make his first appearance for the Revolution and distinguish himself among a group of strikers that has been gun-shy through the first three months of the season.
What's more, Agudelo was left off of US national team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's latest roster for a series of friendlies and World Cup qualifiers. Though young, Agudelo is establishing himself as a regular with the national team. However, a hamstring injury has prevented him from playing recently, and he's been temporarily taken off of Klinsmann's radar.
He'll grab Klinsmann's attention again if continues to play the way he did last Saturday night against Houston.
He came on as a substitute in the 35th minute for Ryan Guy (calf) and immediately began setting up chances, making passes and creating space for other players to shoot. In the 84th minute, Agudelo almost single-handedly launched a passing and shooting sequence which led to an own goal by Houston's Ricardo Clark, doubling the lead and ensuring a Revolution win.
“I think this is huge for a new player to come in and get a win like this and be a part of it,” Agudelo told revolutionsoccer.net. “Today I feel so much closer to the guys. We fought together as a team and as a unit and we came out with a win here, which is not easy.”
Defensively, the team remained very true to form. Darrius Barnes started at left back in place of Chris Tierney for the second time this season and was solid throughout the game. Minutes have been hard to come by for Barnes in recent years, who has had to switch from his natural role as a central defender to playing on the left due to roster congestion and competition. But his contributions on Saturday to help preserve the Revolution's sixth cleansheet of the season is evidence Heaps can use when deciding if he can rely on Barnes.
Meanwhile, Bobby Shuttleworth, who appears to have taken the reigns from Matt Reis as starting goalkeeper, earned his fourth shutout and made his eighth straight start. He stopped three shots, including a point-blank effort by Houston's Brian Ching late in the game on Saturday.
The road to becoming a starter has been bumpy for Shuttleworth, being sidelined behind Reis since he joined the Revolution in 2009. Many supporters and pundits are loyal to Reis for his eleven years of service to the Revolution, in which he achieved many personal milestones and team accolades. This has caused Shuttleworth to be thought of as less capable than Reis, though his form this season has been spectacular.
Shuttleworth has been driven to help his team win and be consistent in between the pipes, communicating better with his back line and establishing himself as one of the league's best young shot stoppers.
Though the Revolution played well last Saturday on both sides of the ball, it was, in truth, an unorthodox game. Both teams had players sent off in the first half when Houston's Bobby Boswell and New England's Dimitry Imbongo got red carded for a fight that broke out between the two in the 40th minute following a freekick.
The ejection forced Houston to change their shape, which had already been compromised when Eric Brunner had to be substituted for the injured Jermaine Taylor in central midfield.
The Revolution took advantage of Houston's situation and capitalized twice in the second half. And while it took them a while to put the ball in the back of the net, they were rarely second best as they pinged the ball around Houston's penalty area and created chance after chance.
This Saturday's game against Toronto FC, who continue to skid, likely won't be as easy to control. But the Revolution have momentum for the first time this season as they enter a three-game home stand. They are clicking both offensively and defensively and Heaps knows he has many options at his disposal to fight for results.
“It’s a lot of momentum right now,” finished Agudelo. “We’re getting toward the middle of the season and the playoffs are getting closer and closer. It’s huge to win this away game. We have [three] home games coming up and hopefully we can make a push to be on the top of the league.”
It's no surprise that the Revolution's freshly-signed forward Juan Agudelo wasn't called up to US national team for June World Cup Qualifiers and two friendlies against Belgium and Germany.
The young forward has been nursing a hamstring injury and hasn't seen consistent minutes on the field in 2013. Playing time is a big factor for US Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann when he considers calling players up to the national team.
"I haven't spoken to him lately," said Juan Agudelo. "Hopefully he is watching."
"He's pretty big on players who are in a good run, good momentum, and consistently playing ninety minutes. He wants them to be fully fit and ready."
What is surprising, however, is that Klinsmann continues to not call Landon Donovan back to the national team. After taking a break from soccer in the spring, Donovan has returned to his old form and looks poised to help the national team again. On Wednesday night, his goal and two assists helped lead the Los Angeles Galaxy past the Philadelphia Union, 4-1.
Klinsmann, who announced that Donovan would not be part of this roster a few days before he released it, needs him to continue to prove himself.
"Not talking out names, but there are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan in how we see things,” Klinsmann said. “Again, things will develop over time. We see now how he will do in the next couple of weeks, months, and we’ll look at the entire picture and make our call."
What's also surprising is the fact that Klinsmann has called six goalkeepers into the squad. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are both the top two keepers, though it appears Klinsmann wants Sean Johnson (Chicago), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake), Bill Hamid (DC) and Tally Hall (Houston) to continue to learn the ropes within the national team camp.
Former Revolution players Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg) and Clint Dempsey (Tottenham) both earned calls. Parkhurst, a defender, recently transferred to the Bundesliga after playing in Champions League with Nordsjaelland in the fall. Dempsey has had another successful Premier League season, scoring seven goals this season, and is probably the US' best offensive threat.
Stuart Holden (Bolton) and Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) have both earned their first call-ups in many months, but for different reasons. Holden has been out injured, while Kljestan has somehow slipped under Klinsmann's radar despite having played in Champions League this season.
The defense continues to be without long-time captain Carlos Bocanegra, who said earlier this week he was considering a move back to MLS. But Klinsmann looks very satisfied with an MLS-based central defense partnership between Matt Besler (Kansas City) and Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), which ushered the US to a cleansheet in their last qualifier in Mexico City.
GOALKEEPERS (6): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg/Germany)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/Turkey), Stuart Holden (Bolton/England), Jermaine Jones (Schalke/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Brek Shea (Stoke City/England), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/Germany), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
On Thursday, the Revolution cut ties with winger Sainey Nyassi. Nyassi, 24, joined the Revolution in 2007 after impressing former coach Steve Nicol at the U-20 World Cup. Despite being from the Gambia, Nyassi had a Green Card and did not occupy an international roster spot. In 104 regular season appearances, Nyassi accrued 75 starts, eight goals, and four assists. He has four caps with the Gambia's national team.
The New England Revolution is not where club President Brian Bilello wants them to be either on or off the field. Ten games through the season the Revolution are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot. And in his eleventh year with the organization, Bilello has seen the Revolution go from being one of the league’s best teams into a club that is slow to evolve with the rapidly changing structure of MLS.
“On the field, [it’s] a little disappointing,” said Bilello prior to the Revolution’s 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night. “We’re hoping to be in a better position right now. When you look at where we are in the East, we want to be a little further up the board.”
“We were very good for a long time. We have a job to do right now. We need to turn things around on the field…We’re still playing in a football stadium outside the city and we’re in the bottom third in terms of draw in the league.”
The Revolution haven’t reached the playoffs since 2009 and in some respects, not much has changed. Coach Jay Heaps is struggling to get consistency out of his players, while issues such as game atmosphere, player acquisition, and a seemingly endless search for a soccer specific stadium have drawn the ire of even the most loyal Revolution fans.
“I understand it,” said Bilello of many supporters’ frustration. “Where I get disappointed is how things get painted with one brush, everything is either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’” There are a lot of things we’ve done well. We’ve been working at it for a while.”
Bilello points mainly at the success the club has had with retaining a base of supporters, citing the high renewal rate of season ticket holders. He’s also pleased with the success of the Revolution Academy, one of the strongest youth soccer academies in the country, which has already produced Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell as the club’s first homegrown signings. Fagundez scored on Saturday night and now leads the Revolution with two goals, while Caldwell has been in and out as a starter in Heaps’ lineup.
“If you look at our Academy, it’s rated one of the best in the entire country,” said Bilello. “Ultimately our goal with our Academy is to lead [the league] in minutes played by Academy players. We’re putting money into those areas where we think we can really make an impact on the team on the field.”
Fagundez and Caldwell have been bright spots on a team that is still trying to find its identity. And the Revolution does have a strong core of fans from which they can continue to build support. But the bottom line for fans, players, and the league is for the Revolution to step into this decade of American soccer.
Thirteen of the 19 MLS teams (San Jose will be the 14th in 2014) have their own soccer specific stadium. The Revolution isn’t one of them. Both supporters and the organization believe this is hindering a potential high-energy game-day environment and a spike in attendance. What’s more, according to an anonymous player survey done by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, the Revolution have the worst field in all of MLS.
The negative reputation of the Revolution’s artificial turf field could also be preventing them from signing a high-profile player. The state of Gillette Stadium’s field prevented New York’s Thierry Henry from playing on it this Saturday. The likes of David Beckham and Antonio Valencia have also decided not to play on the turf field in the past. A stadium of their own, preferably with natural grass, would definitely change players’ minds.
Bilello says the Revolution is working on the stadium, though he still won’t comment on the status of the plan. The club has publicly looked at Somerville in the past, while ideas have floated around about the Revolution being involved in building a stadium in Chelsea, Everett, or Revere in the wake of the casino and slot parlor constructions in Massachusetts.
“We’re in a difficult situation in terms of trying to get that done,” admitted Bilello. “We’ve been at it for six years and I’m confident about it. When you’re working with municipalities and cities it’s hard for us to necessarily control a timeline. Once we get our stadium project off the ground, a lot changes.”
Six years has been too long for some. The backing of the Kraft family as owners has come under fire recently. Supporters have used facebook, the club’s website, and news outlets to vent their frustration at ownership. It appears to many that the Revolution are the Kraft family’s second priority, rather than an equal investment, to the New England Patriots.
“I think both the Kraft family and the Hunt family, because they have NFL sides as well, I think there’s a weird perception,” acknowledged Bilello. “Both families have been involved with the sport since the very beginning. The fact that they’re involved in the NFL, that hurts them.”
But supporters aren’t the only ones who question the efforts of the Kraft family. The same anonymous player survey that Sports Illustrated conducted which revealed that the Revolution have the worst field also said that the Krafts are the league’s worst owners.
Bilello doesn’t think so.
“There’s a lot of great things about having the Krafts as owners. They’ve supported this league. They do things behind the scenes not just for the Revolution, but for the sport of soccer in this country.”
“When you look at that, from an involved with the business standpoint, I would highly disagree with that. I think a lot of the owners would disagree with that too. There are some things the players know a lot about and some things they don’t know a lot about. I don’t know what a Portland player knows about our owner and what they’re involved with or not involved with. I don’t think that’s a fair question for players.”
From a standpoint of backing the league, few will argue against the Krafts involvement. They were one of the original ownership groups when MLS was founded in 1993, putting the Revolution on the field when the league kicked off in 1996. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that the Krafts will spend Patriots player money for a Revolution player.
In regards to the field, the Krafts and the Revolution came under fire from the sports and NFL community in 2008 when CBS commentators blamed the fact that soccer is played on the Gillette Stadium field for a series of scuffed field goals. The turf has since been fixed and meets FIFA standards, but popular opinion shows that it’s made for football more than futbol.
Nevertheless, Bilello believes that having the backing of the Krafts is very positive for American soccer. He is happy to have their support for the Revolution too, even if the team is a work in progress on and off the field.
“For all the owners, you’ve got these 19 groups who want to support and invest in soccer,” explains Bilello. “It takes a lot of work and energy and faith. If you’re soccer a fan and you’re trying to rank owners one to 19, that’s 19 out of how many millions of people that have the money to invest in something like this and invest in it and support it.”
To their credit, no one seems to be jumping up and down to buy the Revolution from the Krafts. If the Krafts chose to sell the Revolution, there is a good chance the franchise would relocate.
“If you’re a soccer fan, all 19 of those groups are doing an awesome job because they’re growing the sport and putting their efforts behind it,” continued Bilello. “This is not something people are making a ton of money at. It’s because they care about the sport and trying to grow it.”
In the short term, the Revolution are working on moving up in the conference standings and continuing their search for a stadium deal. Bilello also says that the club is working on an exhibition match to be played at Gillette Stadium during the summer.
“There’s one more big friendly that we’re working on right now,” revealed Bilello. “From our perspective, until everything is signed and dotted and we make the official announcement, there’s not a game. [Not] until that official announcement comes out. But we’re working on something pretty big and I think fans will be excited.”
Diego Fagundez is proving time and time again that he should be starting for the Revolution. On Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls, the Leominster, Mass. native made his fifth start of the season and scored in the 54th minute in front of 16,440 at Gillette Stadium.
From both his attitude and his play on the field, it doesn't seem as though Revolution coach Jay Heaps will be taking away his starting position any time soon.
"I just came with an energy to come play and show that I should be starting," said Fagundez after the game. "I'm going to be here every game proving and getting better and better and just take it from there."
Unfortunately for Fagundez, his goal wasn't a game-winner. The Revolution blew a lead for the second consecutive game, allowing New York's Lloyd Sam to equalize just 68 seconds after he scored. Still, Fagundez' second goal of the season earned him the honor of match MVP.
Fagundez, who is still 18, has asserted himself as one of the team's deadliest scoring threats. He leads the gun-shy Revolution offense with two goals, and continues to improve and gain confidence every time he steps on the field.
""The little man had a heck of a night," said Heaps of Fagundez' performance against New York.
"He’s hungry. He’s been in and out of our lineup and I’m pushing him for more and more. I think you are seeing him become a more complete, two-way player. I think the goals are going to come because of how he is creating."
Fagundez had six shots against New York, half of the Revolution's total scoring chances. His goal in the 54th minute came off a corner kick from Chris Tierney that he volleyed off the gloves of New York goalkeeper Luis Robles. The ball bounced back to Fagundez and he poked his rebound into the goal to give the Revolution the one-goal advantage.
"Diego is surprisingly crafty in terms of finding the right spot," explained Tierney. "He’s obviously one of the smallest players on the field, but he’s got great instincts. He’s always on the move in the box, which all good goal scorers [do]."
"His positioning is great. You see him getting in those little pockets he got in, between their back four and their midfield. When Diego is on, he’s tough to defend. When he’s playing like he did [Saturday], we got to keep getting the ball in good spots."
Fagundez' five other chances at goal weren't that far off, either. After New York tied the game, Fagundez had two chances that nearly restored the Revolution's lead.
In the 80th minute, He fired a point-blank shot off a Tierney cross from the left flank that Robles barely reacted in time to save. Fagundez had the game's last chance too, firing a lay-off from Ryan Guy inches over the crossbar late in second half stoppage time.
"As soon as that ball went to Ryan, I did my little run up around. Ryan just played the ball a little hard but that's the only way that I would have had it. I just put my foot on it thinking I could get it to the goal but it went over. It was just a good pass by Ryan, [I] just needed to be clinical."
While he only tallied once on Saturday the goal he did score was key, as it allowed the Revolution to pick up at least one point in their journey up the Eastern Conference Standings. It also helped the Revolution maintain their 11-0-6 unbeaten record at home against the Red Bulls, which dates back to June 29, 2002.
Fagundez will have plenty more opportunities to score. Heaps and the Revolution staff have been touting Fagundez' skill since he signed a professional contract in 2010. He re-signed last month and there appears to be nowhere for him to go but up.
"He’s going to create more by being more involved in the offense," finished Heaps. "I like that about Diego. His awareness tactically [is[ natural, but it’s his two-way play that shows me he is ready for the next level."
Outlook- New England: A positive result for the Revolution, but yet another game that could have been won. Diego Fagundez put his team on his back and should continue to be in Jay Heaps' starting lineup. But the Revolution need to stop leaving points on the table. Mid-season is approaching. New York: The Red Bulls will remain at the top of the Eastern Conference and will be satisfied with the result. Aside from Lloyd Sam's goal, they really created nothing. It doesn't seem as though they care.
FINAL: REVOLUTION 1, RED BULLS 1
90th minute- Fagundez shoots the last shot of the game just over the crossbar. 1-1
80th minute- Luis Robles makes an incredible diving save on an effort by Diego Fagundez.
77th minute- Sub for Revs: Andy Dorman in for Kalifa Cisse.
75th minute- Sub for the Red Bulls: Brandon Barklage in for Lloyd Sam
74th minute- Sub for the Revs: Jerry Bengston on for Dimitry Imbongo. 1-1
70th minute- Sub for the Revs: Saer Sene on for Kelyn Rowe. 1-1
65th minute- Revolution look like they're looking for that second goal, They seem to have gotten over the fact that they conceded a goal immediately after scoring one. 1-1
55th minute- GOAL RED BULLS! Lloyd Sam enters the penalty area and shoots low and hard past Bobby Shuttleworth. 1-1
54th minute- GOAL REVOLUTION! Diego Fagundez scores his second of the season. Chris Tierney's corner kick finds Fagundez, who volleys and has his shot saved. He follows up his rebound with a shot that goes in. 1-0 Revs
46th minute- New York makes a sub: Juninho on for Tim Cahill. 0-0
45th minute- Disappointing first half by the Revolution, who really only created one chance. Jay Heaps can't be too happy with his players going into halftime. 0-0
41st minute- Aside from the Imbongo chance a few moments ago, the Revolution haven't created much and have struggled to string passes together.
38th minute- Dimitry Imbongo cuts past defender and fires a shot on target which Robles has to knock away. 0-0
33rd minute- It is only a matter of time before the Red Bulls score. 0-0
25th minute- Diego Fagundez volleys the Revolution's first shot over the cross bar. 0-0
19th minute- Red Bulls nearly pick-off Revolution off of an errant pass by Kalife Cisse. Revolution just look careless and sloppy. 0-0.
8th minute- Revolution not taking care of possession in the early goings here. 0-0
1st minute- And we're off! Kick-off from Gillette Stadium. 0-0
Lineups- New England: GK- Shuttleworth; D- Tierney, McCarthy, Goncalves, Farrell; M- Guy, Cisse, Nguyen, Rowe, Fagundez; F- Imbongo...New York: GK- Robles; D- Miller, Pearce, Holgersson, Kimura; M- Steele, Cahill, Sam, Alexander; F- Espindola, Akpan
Lineups- New England: GK- Shuttleworth; D- Tierney, McCarthy, Goncalves, Farrell; M- Guy, Cisse, Nguyen, Rowe, Fagundez; F- Imbongo...New York: GK- Robles; D- Miller, Pearce, Holgersson, Kimura; M- Steele, Cahill, Sam, Alexander; F- Espindola, Akpan
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