Sunday, September 23, 2012
Barnes makes first MLS goal count
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Darrius Barnes didn't think he'd be the hero on Saturday.
Four years into his professional career, the versatile defender hadn't scored a single goal. Not for lack of trying, of course.
Darrius Barnes celebrates with Ryan Guy after netting the tying goal.
But four minutes after his club conceded what looked like a back-breaking strike in stoppage time, Barnes put on the cape and scored his first MLS goal, allowing his club to salvage a 1-1 draw against the Red Bulls.
"It's been a long time coming," Barnes said after Saturday's game. "It's just great that it came at that point in time. They had just scored a goal in the (91st) minute and we were able to (show) our resiliency and come back and get one of our own."
Resiliency was certainly the key word in Saturday's draw. Although both clubs collected decent chances, neither one had anything to show for it through first 90 minutes.
The Revolution's first chance appeared to net them the opening goal in the fourth minute when Lee Nguyen went sliced through the defense and played it through to Jerry Bengtson, who lodged it under the crossbar. But the assistant referee flagged the Honduran striker offside.
"We had a couple of chances that weren't awarded," Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. "I don't want to comment further other than to say that (the Bengtson shot) was a goal."
Whether the decision was justified or not, the hosts shook it off and pushed through it.
Twenty minutes into the match, Barnes nearly wed the ball with the net on a Lee Nguyen free kick. But the header strayed wide of the far post.
"I kind of jumped too early (and) didn't time it as well as I would have," Barnes said. "It was definitely an opportunity, and I felt like we were going to get a goal off a set piece or cross."
Barnes' mindset may have turned out to be prescient, but before his last-gasp goal leveled it seconds before the three chirps, the Red Bulls found their share of chances as well.
New York rummaged for the evasive again in the 72nd minute when Cahill nodded a dangerous header that nearly escaped the grasp of Shuttleworth. But the backup keeper, who filled in for starter Matt Reis on Saturday, grabbed it just in time to keep the board unblemished.
After 90 minutes came and went without a goal, the guests finally managed to grab a goal. Seconds into stoppage time, Wilman Conde floated a cross far post that Shuttleworth and Cahill battled for. Cahill won, and nearly steered it through before Lindpere emerged to shove it through.
With only minutes left to file a response, Heaps implored his players to keep fighting, and "pick themselves back up."
"The game of soccer's cruel," Heaps said. "That said, it doesn't matter. The game forgets quickly. We have to earn our stripes, and tonight was a way of doing that."
How they were able to do that, of course, is wholly attributable to the spirit of the collective. Although the club's been snakebitten and scorned time after time this season, the fact is the team has never quit. Not that Heaps would ever let them.
So when Barnes snaked his way into the box, got behind Cahill and Heath Pearce and elevated to redirect Ryan Guy's cross through, it was proof positive that the fire still burns inside the collective soul of this club.
And even though the playoff train may have left the station, it's a fire that won't soon be extinguished -- even if it means that a first-time goal scorer has to take center stage.
"We're trying to get our guys to respond when they're down a goal after the 93rd minute and they have a minute left," Heaps said. "They pulled their socks up and (got) something out of nothing."