New England will likely have to beat Columbus twice in two weeks to earn a playoff spot.The New England Revolution made another huge step towards the club's first playoff birth since 2009, winning 3-2 over the visiting Columbus Crew.
Going into the half with a 1-0 score line, New England coach Jay Heaps wanted a calm concerted effort from his team in the second. However, Columbus proved to be bothersome for the Revolution defense, pouring pressure forward and tying the score twice,
“In the second half, we thought we were going to come out and play a little bit better and we didn’t. And I credit the opposing team for that,” said Heaps. “There’s areas where we have to get a little bit better, obviously. We get the second goal, and then they scored and we get the third. And we did a better job holding on at the end there, but after the first and second goal we should be better.”
The second half saw play open up, with the game meaning so much for both teams given the tight nature of the playoff race. New England seemed composed enough to break down Columbus with the amount of space given and calmly took the lead back twice.
Diego Fagundez once again played the role of hero, as the 18 year old scored his fifth game winning goal of the season in the 76th minute.
“The bigger the crowd, the bigger the moment, Diego (Fagundez) rises to the occasion,” stated Heaps. “I thought he had a good first half and then he was one of the guys that got quiet, but he never gets silent. I think he gets quiet and in the break game we couldn’t find him - in that transition break - but he just kept going and he just knows how to score when he gets some time.”
Midfielder Andy Dorman proved to be a game changer for the Revolution, taking the role of suspended midfielder Lee Nguyen.
The former Wales international started just his second game of the MLS season and was constantly creating for New England. His heads-up movement in the box earned a penalty kick, which was converted by defender Chris Tierney in the 69th minute.
Dorman spoke about what the result meant to the team overall,
“I’m just glad I got the opportunity today and more importantly we got the three points,” said Dorman. “It’s about the team and to make the playoffs, and we have another big step next week.”
Next week sees the same match up in the final game of the MLS regular season. With the loss, the Crew are now out of playoff contention but could play the role of spoiler at home.
New England will likely need three points to keep its playoff points alive. Currently the team sits in fifth place ahead of sixth place Houston's match up with New York on Sunday,
“We’ve got to win again, basically. At this point of the year, it’s either win or go home,” exclaimed Revolution defender A.J Soares. “So we’re very happy with the win and I thought a lot of guys stepped up and played well, and we did what we had to do.”