October 27, the New England Revolution wrapped up their lackluster 2012 season with a respectable 1-0 win over expansion Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. Defender A.J. Soares headed in the game-winning goal in the 88th minute after connecting with Chris Tierney’s spot-on free kick.
“Basically, if I score, it’s Chris [Tierney] putting a perfect bender under my head and I just closed my eyes and put my head on it,” said Soares. “It was a perfect ball. I just had to give the guy half a foot of room, jump up, get my head to it and it was going in. The service was perfect.”
The win was the Revolution’s second consecutive win and first-ever victory over a Canadian MLS team. But it was only their second win on the road this season – the first since March 31, when they beat LA Galaxy 3-1.
New England finished their regular season ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 9-17-8 record and 35 points. The Impact did better, finishing their inaugural MLS season seventh in the East with a 12-16-6 record and 42 points.
Better starting line-up gets results
Benny Feilhaber returned from suspension to start in midfield with Fernando Cardenas and Tierney. It was Tierney’s first start since August 29 and he started in his natural left-mid position instead of left back, where he’s been stationed this year. Although Tierney is capable of manning the left back position, his strength is left-mid where he can hold the ball in the top third, take the ball into the corner and deliver a nice cross into the box, exactly what the Revolution is missing. Right winger Ryan Guy put in a strong 90 minutes in the back line, which was improved by his quickness. Diego Fagundez and Jerry Bengtson paired together on top, without results.
Back-up goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth got his fifth straight start (seventh overall) and made a career-high seven saves to record his second straight shutout. Shuttleworth’s continued presence in the starting role raises questions about veteran Matt Reis’s future with the team.
Montreal held the majority of possession and Marco Di Vaio and Patrice Bernier were dangerous all night. Fagundez was tricky up top, but Bengtson bungled shots that were meant for the back of the net. Despite Bengtson’s impressive performance for Honduras at the Summer Olympics, he has become less than useless for New England. When a striker repeatedly fails to connect with a good pass, shoots wide on a clear shot on goal and loses possession easily, he becomes a liability. Not every international player is a good fit for MLS.
Blair Gavin replaced Fagundez is the 64th minute and Imbongo subbed in for Bengtson in the 81st minute. Imbongo’s performance was unacceptable, missing easier shots than Bengtson, and he should be given his walking papers. The Revolution need to drop their self-illusion that they’re developing young players because they’re really bad at it. The team signs exciting college products, burns them out in their first couple years and instead of developing MLS stars, they turn into hacks or the players ask for a trade and do better elsewhere.
The goal was Soares’s second this season and third in his two-year career. The assist was Tierney’s 16th career assist and fifth of the season, tying him as assist leader with rookie Kelyn Rowe. Rowe didn’t get on the field until the 68th minute, but would have been more effective starting up top than either Bengtson or Imbongo.
“[Montreal Impact] are good at home. It was a classic road performance; they had the majority of possession obviously,” said Tierney. “Credit to our guys in the back, they really did a job for us tonight. We didn’t pass particularly well, but what we did do was we got the lucky bounce we needed that we haven’t gotten this year. We were committed for 90 minutes and we’re happy about that.”
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New England Revolution at Montreal Impact
October 27, 2012 – Stade Saputo (Montreal, Canada)
New England Revolution 1, Montreal Impact 0
NE – A.J. Soares (Chris Tierney) 88
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth, Kevin Alston, A.J. Soares, Darrius Barnes, Ryan Guy, Chris Tierney, Clyde Simms ©, Benny Feilhaber, Fernando Cardenas (Kelyn Rowe 68), Diego Fagundez (Blair Gavin 64), Jerry Bengtson (Dimitry Imbongo 81)
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Reis, Sainey Nyassi, Blake Brettschneider, Alec Purdie
STATS: Shots 7, Shots on Target 4, Corner Kicks 3, Saves 8, Fouls 14, Offsides 4, Passes (percentage) 329 (72.6%), Possession 38.3%
Montreal Impact: Troy Perkins, Jeb Brovsky, Matteo Ferrari (Justin Map 71), Alessandro Nesta, Hassoun Camara, Davy Arnaud ©, Calum Mallace, Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner (Sinisha Ubiparipovic 87), Andrew Wenger (Eduardo Sebrango 79), Marco Di Vaio
Substitutes Not Used: Evan Bush, Dennis Iapichino, Zarek Valentin, Lamar Neagle
STATS: Shots 16, Shots on Target 8, Corner Kicks 6, Saves 3, Fouls 11, Offsides 5, Passes (percentage) 528 (84.7%), Possession 61.7%
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Steven Taylor
Fourth Official: Mathieu Bourdeau
Weather: Cloudy and 58 degrees