FOXBOROUGH — After basically forgetting how to win for most of June and July, the Revolution’s memory appears to be getting refreshed. All the Revolution needed Saturday night was the combination of a tactical adjustment and a struggling opponent, plus a clinical finish by Lee Nguyen and a couple of key saves by Bobby Shuttleworth to defeat Chivas USA, 1-0.
Nguyen scored his ninth goal of the season early in the second half as the Revolution (9-12-3, 30 points) remained in playoff contention, 1 point away from the fifth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining.
The Revolution won for the second time in four games (2-1-1) since snapping an eight-game losing streak July 30.
Coach Jay Heaps paired Nguyen and former Japan national teamer Daigo Kobayashi in central midfield, supported by Scott Caldwell, and the combination helped the Revolution turn possession into scoring opportunities. The Revolution also attempted to open the field on the wings, setting up Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe to take on defenders.
Nguyen’s 56th-minute score concluded a sequence that began as Fagundez switched the point of attack to Rowe on the right wing. Nguyen followed a Rowe-Kobayashi exchange cutting across the top of the penalty area, then taking a touch and launching a drive past Dan Kennedy into the left side of the net.
“I love playing with [Kobayashi],” Nguyen said. “We’re on the same wavelength. He doesn’t speak much English, but he’s been playing for a long time and he’s very smart, very composed, and he can keep possession in tight spaces and I think that helps us out.
“I think that’s what makes it tough for teams to play against us. We’ve got a lot of guys who can create on their own and, at the same time, we all can play well together and attack space. We’re really dynamic in that way and, if we keep it consistent, it’s going to be tough for teams to play against us.
“We went through a tough little stretch, but we knew we have the quality here to turn it around. We did well at the beginning to give us a little cushion. Now we know it’s getting tight, close to playoffs, and every game’s going to count here going forward. So every point matters.”
Chivas (6-12-6, 24 points) extended its scoreless streak to 456 minutes over six matches.
“It wasn’t dominant on the scoreboard, but we had possession of the ball,” Heaps said. “We just weren’t penetrating. I thought some of our best chances were if we hit a vertical ball and pounced on the second ball.”
The Revolution had threatened two minutes before the goal, Kobayashi’s left-footer going just over the bar after a cleared free kick.
Chivas threatened to tie, but Shuttleworth stopped Felix Borja’s point-blank shot (65th minute) and touched Erick “Cubo” Torres’s header past the post (72d).
The Revolution continued to attack, bringing on Tony Taylor to make his MLS debut as an 81st-minute substitute for Charlie Davies. Taylor was acquired last week after playing five seasons in Europe with Estoril Praia in Portugal and Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus.
“I mean, we were on such a good stretch that I think we started taking some things for granted, you know, and not grinding as much as we were,” Shuttleworth said of the Revolution’s losing streak. “And I think the performances we’ve put together recently have showed that we’re ready to get back to grinding and we know what we have to do: come out and fight and then be able to play.
“That’s what it’s all about. At the beginning of the year we were really doing that well and that eight-game stretch we were tiptoeing around a bit. So, if we can get back to doing the right things, we’ll be all right.”