FOXBOROUGH — The New England Revolution beat the Columbus Crew, 3-2, on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in a game that had massive playoff implications.
During a strong first-half performance from the Revolution in almost every facet, the home side didn’t find the net until the 32d minute. It came from an unlikely source, too.
After midfielder Andy Dorman won a free kick for the Revolution, defender A.J. Soares met Kelyn Rowe’s cross and directed the header into the back of the net.
Soares’s goal, his first of the season, gave the Revolution a well-deserved 1-0 lead entering halftime.
But Columbus (12-16-5, 41 points) struck with an equalizer in the 59th minute. With his back to the goal, Columbus midfielder Aaron Schoenfeld found Dominic Oduro, who fired the ball past Matt Reis into the top of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Revolution attack was probing to find the go-ahead goal again when Columbus midfielder Tony Tchani tripped Dorman in the penalty box.
Defender Chris Tierney stepped up and hit the spot kick into the bottom left-hand corner, giving New England another goal advantage, 2-1.
But Columbus showed tremendous fight. Refusing to give up, Schoenfeld struck with a left-footed shot into the roof of the net after receiving a pass from Oduro in the 71st minute, tying the game.
The Revolution received the game-winning goal in the 76th minute, scored by none other than midfielder Diego Fagundez.
Substitute Dimitry Imbongo laid the ball off for Dorman, who took a touch before hitting a pass to the far post that Fagundez tapped into the empty net. The goal was Fagundez’s 13th of the season.
“The bigger the crowd, the bigger the moment, Diego rises to the occasion,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. (The attendance, 26,458, was the largest at Gillette for a Revolution game since Aug. 8, 2009.) “I thought he had a good first half. He was one of the guys who got quiet, but he never gets silent. He just kept going, and he knows how to score.”
It was Fagundez’s fifth game-winning goal of the season. Having missed a header moments earlier, the 18-year-old was glad to find the back of the net in another key moment.
“It feels amazing,” Fagundez said. “I definitely wanted it, especially after scuffing the header. I thought it was going to bring me down, but it was the opposite. I was trying to get the goal and I finally got it.”
Fagundez found the big-time goal, but the Revolution received a standout performance from Dorman.
It was Dorman’s second start of the season. Lee Nguyen, a regular in the midfield, was unavailable for the game after yellow-card accumulation, and the Scotsman took full advantage of his chance to shine.
Heaps said Dorman’s performance was “gigantic” in the win.
“He’s put his time in and his work in. He worked so hard,” Heaps said. “He won everything he could get his head to, and he controlled the middle.”
“Dorman was big-time,” said Soares.
“He’s such a vet, he’s a pro. He can come onto the field and be one of the best players. He defended hard and he went forward. He was huge today.”
Before the game, the Revolution named three team awards.
Captain Jose Goncalves won the team’s “Defender of the Year” award, while Reis won the Revolution’s “Humanitarian of the Year” award. Fagundez took home the MVP award.
Following Saturday’s win against Columbus, the Revolution find themselves in fifth place.
With three points, New England (13-11-9) now rises to 48 points on the season with one game remaining. The Houston Dynamo are level with the Revolution on points, but sit in sixth place.
Houston still has two games left. The Dynamo play against the New York Red Bulls Sunday afternoon, with New England holding the second tiebreaker over Houston with a superior “goals for” stat.
The Revolution have scored 48 to Houston’s 39.
“It’s already a playoff atmosphere,” said Soares. “We’re going to take this, go into Columbus next week, and know that it’s another battle.
“We’ve got to win again, basically.”