#MVLee Helps Revolution Avoid Play-in Game

The New England Revolution’s 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Thursday followed a familiar script as Lee Nguyen offered two goals to help his team secure a top-three spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Revs, who could still finish as high as first, will definitively avoid the playoff play-in game, an important goal set by the team.

“We knew it wasn’t over,” Nguyen explained. “We still had two games left and we didn’t really want to play that fourth and fifth seed game, so this game was important. Credit to the guys that didn’t throw in the towel.”

Head coach Jay Heaps used a blended starting lineup, a move meant to give some guys a break while rewarding the efforts of others. Among the changes were Patrick Mullins starting over Charlie Davies, Steve Neumann replacing the injured Teal Bunbury and Scott Caldwell allowing Jermaine Jones to rest.

The mixed lineup performed well, and nearly got a goal in the 13th minute when Neumann intercepted a pass before playing the ball forward to Mullins. The rookie striker tried to square the ball to Kelyn Rowe, but his pass was too far out for the midfielder.

The Revs would come to rue the missed opportunity as Giles Barnes put the home side ahead in the 37th minute. The goal came after Omar Cummings forced a rebound from Bobby Shuttleworth. Barnes, who was unmarked, ran into the box to finish the chance. For the second straight game, the Revs would enter halftime with a deficit.

The momentum of the game would shift in the second half as Heaps began to utilize his bench. The Revolution’s first substitute came in the 50th minute when Kevin Alston replaced Andrew Farrell, who was ailing from a studs-up tackle committed by Jermaine Taylor. Not long after, Davies replaced Mullins and Jones entered for Daigo Kobayashi.

The substitutes proved their value in the 65th minute when the ball moved from Jones to Alston to Nguyen, who would put in a curling beauty for his 16th goal of the year.

That wasn’t enough for the Revs, however, as the team continued to push forward in search of three points. The breakthrough would come in the 86th minute when a scrum in the box led to Barnes finding Nguyen. Nguyen further solidified his MVP candidacy by grabbing his second tally of the night.

“As you can tell at the end there, we risked a lot to go for it because we knew that the three points was going to put us in a position not to have a game midweek of the following week,” Heaps said.

The Revolution will continue their fight for a good position in the MLS playoffs on Saturday, October 25thwhen they welcome Toronto FC to Gillette Stadium.

(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)