Sunday, July 1, 2012
Revs salvage draw in 94th minute -- again
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jay Heaps knew Diego Fagundez had a goal in him before the 17-year-old forward entered the game in the 81st minute. Of that, there is no question.
But it was the manner in which Fagundez -- who's listed at 5-8, 140 pounds in the team media guide -- scored his 94th-minute equalizer in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Seattle that had his coach surprised.
"I didn't think it was going to be Diego on a header," Heaps said with a laugh. "But he's been sharp all week and he was due. He was due."
Diego Fagundez celebrates his game-tying goal with Revs goalie Matt Reiss.
If anything, Fagundez was overdue. After collecting a two goals in six games last season, the team's lone Homegrown Player found himself fighting for playing time this season. And while doing so he tried to find ways to get his coach's attention.
He took a significant step last week in Toronto, where he earned his first start of the season. Although he was subbed out in the 70th minute, he knew his time would come.
That time arrived in the 81st minute of a 2-1 game. With his team down a goal late for the second straight week, Fagundez came into the game to replace Flo Lechner. The idea: Press the issue forward -- and, of course, score the equalizer.
"The first thing (Heaps) said, of course, was 'You go in there, this is your night, let's get the first goal of the year right now,'" Fagundez said. "I just gave it all I had."
Fagundez did more than that. With the clock and hope among the Revolution faithful waning in the 94th minute, Fernando Cardenas brought down a long pass from Stephen McCarthy on the left flank. Then, he examined his options.
With Sounders midfielder Alvaro Fernandez in front of him, the 5-3 outside midfielder saw two runners going into the box: Saer Sene and, right behind him, Fagundez.
"At the last minute, I saw that the second (run) was there," Cardenas said through an interpreter. "I just tried to put a good ball and (hoped) that either one of them could get a head on it."
Despite the fact that Sene put himself in a good position to glance it on frame, Cardenas' ball floated over the 6-3 striker and fell toward Fagundez, who snapped the header past Bryan Meredith to send the crowd of 15,264 into euphoria.
"I don't know where Fernando was actually going (with that pass)," Fagundez admitted. "It could've been (to either Sene or me). But we scored, so that's all that matters right now."
Seconds later, the final whistle sounded. For the second straight week, the Revolution scored a 94th-minute equalizer to rescue them from the brink. Last week, Chris Tierney scored a 94th-minute goal to level the game 2-2 in Toronto.
It may not be the way Heaps has it scripted out on the practice field. Even though his team found a way to steal another point in stoppage time against the Sounders, he would've liked have to come away with the victory -- especially with the chances the Revs found in the second half.
"Credit our guys," Heaps said. "They keep believing that we can get back in games. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win. But it's better than the zero points. We'll take the one."
Yes, the Revolution may have fallen short of the objective. Three points at home is a theme that Heaps and his coaching staff have drilled into their players' minds since the preseason.
But the fact is that a four-game unbeaten streak (1-0-3) means that the team is getting results, regardless. And, perhaps more importantly, the team's last two games -- both of which of have featured goals from second-half substitutes --have shown that the Revolution have weapons on the bench to get it done.
One of those weapons, of course, is Fagundez, who was more than just happy to contribute. He was relieved. Relieved that his hard work in training and in the reserve league led to his first goal since Oct. 1 -- coincidentally, against the same Seattle side he scored against on Saturday.
"It's been a while," Fagundez said. "Last year, I had a good goal against Seattle. This year, I get another goal. This is a step forward right now. I'm going to keep working hard in practice and keep going forward."
Shalrie Joseph was back in the thick of things against the Sounders.
• With the draw, the Revolution remained unbeaten against Western Conference foes (3-0-1).
• The draw extended the Revolution's unbeaten streak to four (1-0-3).
• After missing last week's Toronto FC game, Shalrie Joseph returned to the lineup and started at his usual central midfield position.
• Saturday's game was the first with Joseph and Clyde Simms partnered together in the Revolution's central midfield since the May 12 game against Vancouver.
• Seattle striker Fredy Montero was unavailable for Saturday's game due to red-card suspension.
• Sene scored his first goal since May 26 at D.C. His eight goals are the most scored by a Revolution player since Joseph scored the same number in 2009.
• Flo Lechner got the start at right back with Kevin Alston out with a hamstring strain. It was Lechner's first start since April 5 at FC Dallas.
• For the second straight game, the Revolution allowed two goals in the first half, and have done so in three of their last five.
• The two goals scored by Seattle's Eddie Johnson marked the first time the Revolution have allowed an opposing player to register a multi-goal game since Alvaro Saborio scored twice for Real Salt Lake on May 5 in a 2-1 Revolution loss.
• With the 2-2 draw, the Revolution's goals for/against remained at an even 0 for the third straight week.