New England Revolution: Chad Barrett
After four weeks away from the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium, the Revolution scored early and late to grab a much-needed 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
"For us, we needed to get home and get some points," Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. "We were defensively sound, but we weren't as good as we can be offensively."
The 13,732 in attendance were promised postgame fireworks in commemoration of the Fourth of the July weekend, but the fans didn't have wait long for the Revolution to launch an early rocket.
In the 13th minute, Saer Sene initially ripped a shot that Jon Busch punched away before it fell to Stephen McCarthy, who quickly played it to Lee Nguyen. From there, Nguyen found Sene for a second opportunity, and the Frenchman didn't disappoint when he unleashed a 25-yard shot that flew past the reach of Busch.
"I like to shoot from far away," Sene said. "I don't like to think too much. When I am on the field, I am trying stuff, and I'm happy that tonight [it] was successful."
After a San Jose giveaway near midfield, Scott Caldwell played a keen ball forward to Chad Barrett, who ran onto it, went forward and sent it across for Diego Fagundez, who arrived a step too late to tap it through in the 28th minute.
Six minutes later, Andrew Farrell pushed forward and played a quick game of give-and-go with Kelyn Rowe before the full back's subsequent shot was denied by the shoe top of Busch at the last moment.
"I'm not sure we had our best stuff tonight," Heaps said. "But we still won, [and] if we play as well as we're capable of and [given] how deep our squad is, we know we can compete with any team in this league, especially when we play here at home."
Although the offense was guilty of missing a handful of prime chances to put the game out of reach at halftime, the defense came through to keep the Earthquakes from sneaking back into the match.
McCarthy and fellow center back Jose Goncalves cleared a number of San Jose crosses out of danger and succeeded in keeping the likes of Adam Jahn and Alan Gordon from putting a single shot on frame. Without having to worry about Chris Wondolowski (Gold Cup), Marvin Chavez (Gold Cup) and Steven Lenhart (injured), the Revolution center backs clamped down on the San Jose attack all night.
"If you look at the way the game played out, [McCarthy] and Jose [Goncalves] were the reason we won the game," Revolution left back Chris Tierney said. "The way that [San Jose] plays is that they've got two big, strong forwards, and that's a tough assignment for any defender in this league. [McCarthy] and Jose are the biggest and strongest out there."
It appeared in the latter stages that the onus of squeezing out three points would fall on the defense, until the 78th minute, when another blonde-mohawked striker took center stage.
With the Revolution in search of an insurance goal, Rowe played it ahead to Nguyen, who ran toward the right post searching for a runner inside the area. He found one when Dimitry Imbongo slid into Nguyen's pass and sent it into the net.
"I am really happy that [Imbongo] scored," Sene said. "Maybe, it's special for the people because we both have the mohawks. We are happy because it was a very important game, and we needed these three points."
Imbongo's goal lifted a considerable weight off the Revolution's defense, especially given San Jose's propensity for scoring late. And when referee Carlos Rivera chirped his whistle three times, the Revolution victory -- their first since early June - allowed the home fans to savor the postgame fireworks.
"We're always most comfortable at home," Tierney said. "I think a lot of teams around the league really don't look forward to coming here, which is obviously to our advantage."
Taking over at the target striker’s spot on Saturday in the absence of Jerry Bengtson, the 27-year-old veteran striker had to contend with gusty winds and a Sporting Kansas City side that dropped numbers, both of which conspired to keep the entire Revolution squad from registering a single shot on target.
“Well, you know going into the game, you know it’s going to be like that,” Barrett said following Saturday’s 0-0 draw. “You might get just one chance, you might get none.”
In his 63 minutes on the pitch, Barrett chased down a number of long balls into the attacking third and pretty much did anything he could to test Kansas City center backs Aurelien Collin and Ike Opara. Although he fought and clawed for every chance that came his way, the only successes he could muster were in the form of a pair of second-half fouls.
Nevertheless, Revolution head coach Jay Heaps praised Barrett’s work rate, even though the veteran forward wasn’t in peak condition.
“I thought Chad (Barrett) did a great job,” Heaps said after the game. “It’s a fitness (issue) at this point. Chad obviously joined us late in preseason and then he took an illness and was sick for a little while (and) had a virus. We had to be cautious with him. ... I thought he did a great job for 60 minutes.”
Fitness wasn’t the only issue Barrett was battling on Saturday. Deployed as the lone striker in a possession-oriented 4-2-3-1 formation, the gritty forward, who was accustomed to the two-striker formation from his days with the Los Angeles Galaxy, knew that he’d have to create chances on his own if he was going to grab a goal.
“In the formation we played, it was hard because sometimes I don’t have a lot of help,” Barrett said. “But that was what the game called for, that was the game plan.”
Even though he didn’t get a chance to record a single shot, Barrett claimed some measure of success in one sense.
“Pretty much my job was to create havoc out there, make sure if they did get their head on balls, they didn’t get a clean head on balls," he said. "(I) pretty much (fought) with them.”
It wasn’t the prettiest stuff, to be sure. And with Bengtson scheduled to return from World Cup Qualifying in time for next week’s clash against FC Dallas, Barrett may have to wait his turn until he gets another start.
Nevertheless, Barrett hopes that Saturday’s scoreless draw was an anomaly, and that the team’s attack will improve as the season progresses and the weather improves.
“Going forward, we will see what happens,” Barrett said. “You kind of got an ugly football game (on Saturday), but you know, hopefully, when the weather gets nicer and the wind settles down a little bit, we can play a little bit better soccer.”