Augdelo returns, sparks Revs past Fire
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Juan Agudelo looked over his shoulder once, then looked over again at the linesman, before he wildly raced along the line, shirt over his head, and karate-kicked the corner flag in triumph.
In the 54th minute of Saturday’s 2-0 Revolution win over the Fire, Agudelo grabbed a long ball from Chris Tierney and put just enough force behind the outside of his right foot to sail it over the line a split-second before Bakary Soumare pounded it away.
“I knew it was across the line,” Agudelo said. “But I was hoping that the refs saw that it was across the line. It was an awesome feeling to see the linesman put his flag out to say that it was a goal.”
For Agudelo, who missed the Revolution’s previous eight games with a right knee sprain, Saturday’s return to the lineup was a much-needed remedy to the team’s recent scoring woes.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Revolution had only six goals in their past six games, and had been blanked in their past two. All the while, Agudelo could only wait for his right knee to heal while his club suffered setback after setback.
“It was a tough time (for me) to see my teammates (around) the 80th minute or 90th minute reach out for a breath and to not be able to come out with wins,” Agudelo said. “I was lucky I was able to come back and help my teammates.”
It’s not an overstatement to say he helped his teammates in a big way on Saturday. With Dimitry Imbongo suspended after he was red-carded in last week’s 3-0 loss at Kansas City, the Revolution needed everything they could get from Agudelo. And for his part, the Stoke City-bound striker delivered.
In addition to the goal, the powerful, physical forward helped break down a Chicago side that entered the game unbeaten in their previous four.
In his 68 minutes on the pitch, he battled with Austin Berry and Bakary Soumare for position and, in the process, opened up an attack that had struggled mightily in recent weeks.
“Juan has a really good presence up there,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “He’s not afraid to receive it and when he receives it, he’s actually always dangerous as he holds it.”
The numbers certainly back that assertion up. On the night, the Revolution’s possession percentage hovered near 60 percent. Their passing was much crisper, with their accuracy rising above the 80 percent mark. On the whole, there was little doubt which team was outplaying the other thanks to Agudelo’s efforts.
“He makes players like Lee (Nguyen) and Kelyn (Rowe) have a little bit more time to find the gaps,” Heaps said. “So when you have someone who can do that, it really opens up what we’re trying to do.”
While Agudelo’s potent presence pointed the Revolution toward their first home win since July 17, victory wasn’t assured until Rowe added an insurance goal off a Saer Sene rebound in stoppage time. It was a moment of personal redemption for the sophomore midfielder, who badly missed an open-net opportunity in the 89th minute.
“I should’ve put it away, (but) I’m not going to miss twice,” Rowe said. “(On the second chance) Saer’s going to shoot that and put it away and usually he does. I was just fortunate enough to be there (for the rebound).”
The Revolution were certainly fortunate to have Agudelo return to the lineup. Thanks to his impact, the Revolution put themselves back in the playoff conversation by taking back the sixth spot from the Fire. With the win, the Revolution put the breaks on their two-game slide and upped their mark to 9-9-6 (33 points). The Fire saw their unbeaten run end at four and their record went to 9-10-4 (31 points).
“It was fun,” Agudelo said. “I felt like teammates were trying to find me and it felt great.”
What it means: For the first time in over a month, the Revolution used their home pitch to their advantage. Despite a sloppy and disheveled first half, they broke through early in the second stanza when the recently healed Agudelo converted a spectacular shot that he chipped off the side of his right foot. The Fire, who came into Gillette Stadium fresh off a surprising 2-1 win over Montreal, had no response, as goalie Matt Reis and the Revolution defense shut the door.
Stat of the game: After a disastrous performance in Kansas City, the Revolution tightened the screws on their passing accuracy, as they finished with an 82 percent accuracy rate. Prior to the game, the Revolution’s accuracy rate was 75 percent on the season.
Changes aplenty: Heaps made five changes to the lineup after last week’s crushing loss in Kansas City. In addition to the return of Agudelo and Reis to the 11, AJ Soares and Diego Fagundez were back in the lineup, while Tierney resumed his duties at left back.
Davies makes his debut: Former Boston College product Charlie Davies, who was added to the roster last week, came on for Chad Barrett in the 79th minute to make his first appearance in a Revolution uniform. Davies was acquired on loan from Randers (Denmark) via trade with D.C. United, on Aug. 9.
First half woes continue: For the fifth straight game, the Revolution failed to score in the first half. Their last first-half goal came on a 15th-minute free kick from Juan Toja at Colorado on July 17.
Next up: The Revolution remain at home next weekend when they host the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, Aug. 25. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m ET.