FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Midway through the first half of a scoreless game, Revolution left back Chris Tierney pushed into the attacking third before he made a big mistake.
At least he thought he did.
With three Red Bulls defenders closing in, Saer Sene ran into the area completely unmarked. All Tierney had to do was slip it through.
But, Tierney hesitated. He held onto it for too long. So, instead, he cut it back to Lee Nguyen, just hoping that his fellow left-sided teammate could bail him out.
Like a good teammate, that’s exactly what Nguyen about a second later when he fired a 20-yard shot that found the back of the net.
“(Chris) played me a ball with enough pace on it to give me time to take a touch towards goal and take a shot,” Nguyen said after Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Red Bulls. “It was just a nice setup from the beginning to the end.”
Although replays show that Sene may have been the better option, Tierney’s pass to Nguyen in the face of danger isn’t all that surprising.
In all but one game this season, Tierney and Nguyen found themselves stationed together on the left flank, an area that only a year ago, was a point of weakness for the Revolution a year ago.
Whether it was due to a shaky core, injuries or a simple lack of cohesion, the Revolution weren’t especially effective on the left side. So first year head coach Jay Heaps decided to do something about it.
A day after the Whitecaps put Nyugen on waivers in early-March, Heaps and general manager Miek Burns rushed in to sign the suddenly-unemployed midfielder. It turned out to be a fortuitous move -- one that Tierney quickly became a fan of.
“I love playing with Lee,” Tierney said after Sunday’s game. “He’s as technical as you get in this league. He’s been awesome for us all year and I think we have a good understanding of when one goes, one covers.”
While Nguyen’s fearless runs into the attacking third have endeared him to the Revolution faithful, Tierney noted that his left-footed accomplice also puts in work off the ball, whether the team’s pressing or defending.
“What he doesn’t get enough credit for is how hard he works,” Tierney said. “You see his work rate. He’s not only creating for us offensively and controlling the game, but he’s always tracking back and getting in tackles.”
There’s no doubt that Tierney’s thrilled to have Nguyen’s and his unquenchable work ethic in front of him. Not only does it help the defense as a whole, it’s obvious through the team’s first 16 games that the Tierney-Nguyen combination has improved the Revolution’s form on the left side this season.
And while the overall defending has improved as a result, Nguyen (three goals, two assists) and Tierney (two goals, four assists) have also made notable offensive contributions during the first half of the season.
But after Sunday’s 2-0 win -- which extended the Revolution’s current unbeaten streak to five -- Nguyen was simply focused on his team’s success rather than his 24th minute goal.
“(Winning) was huge, especially at home,” Nguyen said. “We need to get three points and now going into the next game it’s going to give us confidence and hopefully we can make it a couple wins in a row and push up the leaderboard.”