Juan Agudelo’s ninth goal of the season delivered the New England Revolution to their first postseason berth in four years with a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Sunday at Crew Stadium.
Agudelo scored in the 28th minute after back-heeling a pass to Lee Nguyen, who sent it right back to the Revolution forward, who coolly slotted it through to put the guests ahead.
Matt Reis stopped four shots to earn his fifth clean sheet of the season and remain unbeaten (7-0-4) on the 2013 regular season.
Dominic Oduro received a 90th-minute red card for a bad foul, forcing the Crew to finish the contest shorthanded.
With the win, the Revolution finished the regular season with a 14-11-9 (51 points) record, which temporarily put them in third place, pending the outcome of Sunday’s New York-Chicago clash. The Crew closed out their campaign with a 12-17-5 (41 points) mark.
What it means: It was no stretch to say Sunday’s contest was the biggest one in recent memory for the Revolution. After missing out on the postseason in each of the last three seasons, all the Revolution needed was a win to punch their ticket to the playoffs. After a slow start, Agudelo’s strike put them in command, while the defense did the rest, despite a few close calls late. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, to be sure. Rather, it was a classic, hard-fought battle that not only went the Revolution’s way, but also showed the grit and tenacity that brought them back from as deep as eighth place to their first postseason appearance since 2009.
Stat of the game: The Revolution certainly made the most of their 28th-minute opportunity after the Crew claimed 67.7 percent of the possession on Sunday.
Lineup changes: Revolution coach Jay Heaps made three changes to his lineup from last week’s contest at Gillette Stadium. Up top, Dimitry Imbongo took over for Jerry Bengtson, while Kevin Alston started ahead of an injured Chris Tierney at left back. With Lee Nguyen back from suspension, Scott Caldwell did not make the lineup.
Barnes gets rare chance: Darrius Barnes saw his first action in more than three months when he came on in the 74th minute for Alston, who came off with an injury. Barnes’ last appearance came at Columbus on July 20.
Next up: Pending the result of Sunday’s New York-Chicago contest, the Revolution will either host Sporting Kansas City next weekend in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals or Houston on Wednesday in the wild card.