October 20, 2012
By Adam Burrows
LOOKS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
Youngster Fagundez lifts Revs over Fire
New England Soccer News Contributor
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.--On a balmy Indian summer evening, the New England Revolution closed out the home end of their troubled 2012 season on a positive note, making a 17th minute Diego Fagundez goal hold up for a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire before a season-high Gillette Stadium crowd of 25,534.
|Diego Fagundez scored his second goal of the season as the New England Revolution closed out their home season with a 1-0 win over Chicago Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
In the seasonal rubber match between two Eastern Conference rivals, whose campaigns have diverged in starkly different directions, the cellar-scraping Revolution (8-17-8, 32 points) outplayed the playoff-bound Fire (17-11-5, 56 points) for only their second win in their last sixteen outings.
The evening began inauspiciously, when air raid sirens interrupted the national anthem and the PA system went silent, but once the whistle sounded the Revolution went about their work with uncommon efficiency, clamping down on the Fire front four and holding onto possession with unusual commitment.
Chicago mustered only two shots in the first half, neither on goal, and never looked remotely threatening.
The Revolution pounced on their sluggish guests early.
Moments after Bobby Shuttleworth snatched away a dangerous Dan Gargan cross into the box, Fagundez accepted a Kelyn Rowe pass in space on the right side of midfield and drove a right-footed dagger from 25 yards out into the far lower corner of the Chicago net.
It was the teenagerís second goal of the season, equaling his 2011 rookie year output, and the Uruguayan U20 international celebrated by lifting his jersey to reveal a "Happy B-Day Mom" message on his black undershirt.
The Revolution defense rose to the occasion, with A.J. Soares and Darrius Barnes putting in solid efforts in central defense.
Kevin Alston continued to demonstrate his greater affinity for left back than his previously customary right, springing forward to join the attack at appropriate moments while closing down the speedy Patrick Nyarko on his flank.
Meanwhile, Blair Gavin, in his first Revolution appearance, formed an immediate bond in central midfield with Clyde Simms, combining to stifle Chris Rolfe and the Chicago passing game. Gavin lasted an hour before giving way to Juan Toja.
Chicago left back Gonzalo Segares gave Chicago its first legitimate chance in the 72nd minute, getting behind the New England defense but slicing his left-footed effort wide of goal.
In the 85th minute, Nyarko managed a weak half-volley from inside the box that Shuttleworth gathered in easily for the only save of the night.
The Revolution should have doubled their lead on the cusp of stoppage time when Fagundez blazed forward on the counterattack and laid a cross in the path of an onrushing Jerry Bengston, but the Honduran striker skied the sitter over the bar.
In the final home game of the year, Revolution coach Jay Heaps shook up his lineup one more time.
Heaps gave a first start to Gavin, who arrived from Chivas USA on August 1st in the Shalrie Joseph deal but hadnít seen action for New England due to lingering hamstring tightness.
Gavin slipped into deep central midfield alongside Simms, again wearing the captainís armband, and Fagundez dropped into the midfield left wing opposite Rowe on the right, with Bengtson and Dimitry Imbongo paired as twin strikers.