Unlikely hero Imbongo helps Revs end skid
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the first time in nearly two months, victory was finally theirs.
After enduring the numerous valleys and caverns of a franchise-record 10-game winless streak, the New England Revolution came out on top in a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Wednesday.
"It's been a tough road," Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said after the game. "It's nice to end this winless streak, to be honest with you. I think the guys came out tonight and played really well."
But with little else to lose, the Revolution -- who featured Diego Fagundez and little-used striker Dimitry Imbongo at the head of the attack -- came out of the gates hungry to grab their first win since July 8.
"I think me and Dimitry came onto the field thinking that we needed to do something," Fagundez said after the game. "(We) got together and we were like, 'We need to do something right now. This is our game to show that we can help out the team.'"
With Fagundez and Imbongo ready to point the attack in the right direction, the Revolution found a number of opportunities in the first half.
One of the most impressive came from a Flo Lechner throw-in deep inside Columbus territory in the 12th minute. With the long, arcing ball approaching the box, Columbus keeper Andy Gruenebaum came off his line to push it away. But the rebound fell right to Fagundez, who quickly volleyed it on frame before Gruenebaum denied it point-blank.
Although Fagundez didn't find the back of the net on his acrobatic shot, his strike partner wouldn't be denied in the opening minutes of the second stanza.
From another long throw-in from Lechner, Imbongo flicked it forward to Fagundez, who raced to it and pushed his shot off the near post. But Fagundez quickly recovered the rebound before putting it front for Imbongo, who casually slipped it into a wide-open net in the 53rd minute.
"It was just such a quick play," Fagundez said. "It was a good throw in by Flo and Dimitry was holding his man very well and Dimitry (came) in and (I) barely touched it with my toe and he followed through."
As for Imbongo, who had seen little action since he was signed on July 16, his first MLS goal was a gratifying experience.
"I work hard every day," Imbongo said after the game. "Today, (I scored) my first goal and I am very happy. It was very good."
Even though the attack was clearly clicking for the Revolution, they were afforded a rare lucky break in the 74th minute to add to their lead.
After Matt Reis launched a long ball from the box, Chris Tierney flicked it forward, where Crew defender Chad Marshall raced over to send it to his keeper. But Marshall's header cleared Gruenebaum and crashed into his own net to make it a two-goal game.
"We could sense that the game was going our way, (in) that we were pushing them," Heaps said. "And that was why I think we came out a bit sharper. It was all the little things tonight."
For the first time in 11 tries, the Revolution finally got all the little things right. Not only was the attack in top form (eight shots on frame with 20 shots total), but the defense -- which notched its second straight shutout Wednesday -- also stood tall against the Crew.
And even though Matt Reis needed to make only three stops on the evening, he made a pair of critical saves in the 86th minute to keep the Crew from entertaining a comeback.
In short, it was a complete effort from top to bottom -- an effort that Heaps could finally be proud of after weeks of dreadful mistakes and missed opportunities.
"We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting," Heaps said. "There wasn't much more than a lot of guys playing with a lot of heart. I was really happy (with) the way the guys showed up tonight."