Revolution close season with a victory over Impact
FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution closed their 23d season on a winning note before 28,239, their second largest home crowd of the season Sunday. But the Revolution’s 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact left them in eighth place in the Eastern Conference as they failed to advance to the MLS playoffs for the third successive season.
Diego Fagundez’s 75th-minute goal made the difference as the Revolution (10-13-11, 41 points) won their season finale for the fifth time. The Revolution have been victorious in their final game of the season in 1999, 2012, and 2016-18 — each time with nothing at stake.
“I think the professionalism today was really good,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said. “It really lacked in the RSL game [4-1 loss] first half, it was not acceptable. We spoke a lot to the players this week in training and they changed their attitude very, very well. And I think it was a very good thing that they did, to at least send their fans home with a very good performance against a team that needed to win to get into the playoffs. So I thought we bossed the game from beginning to the end.”
Fagundez, 23, became the youngest MLS player to reach 50 career goals, seven years after scoring in his debut game for the Revolution.
Montreal (14-16-4, 46 points), which finished in seventh place, went into the game needing a victory to have a chance to overtake Columbus for the final playoff place. But the Impact mostly defended in the opening half, then opened up in the second half, and the Revolution capitalized.
In the first half, the Revolution threatened as outside backs Zach Herivaux and Brandon Bye moved into the attack. Cristian Penilla, named the team’s most valuable player in a pre-game ceremony, earned two corner kicks in duels with Impact right back Bacary Sagna, and Kelyn Rowe’s one-timer was saved by Evan Bush in the 33d minute.
Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti and Luis Silva had shots saved by Matt Turner in the second half, and the Revolution retaliated on counterattacks through Penilla, who missed wide (70th), substitute Brian Wright (72nd), and Fagundez, who missed high (74th). Fagundez scored on his next touch, finishing with a low shot into the left side of the net from just outside the penalty arc. Penilla set up the score, running toward the penalty area, then laying off a trivela pass, slightly deflected by Samuel Piette.
“It’s a good accomplishment for myself but it’s not good enough between our team,” said Fagundez, who celebrated by removing his shirt and was cautioned by referee Armando Villarreal. “We’re all looking to be stronger next year. Whatever happens from now [until] next year, we have to make sure we perform and make the playoffs.”
Fagundez is third on the Revolution all-time scoring list behind Taylor Twellman (101 goals), who was acknowledged on Think Taylor Concussion Awareness Night, and Lee Nguyen (51).
The crowd of 28,239 trailed a 36,573 attendance for a 3-2 loss to the LA Galaxy on July 14 and was the Revolution’s lowest for a home finale since 2013.
“I really feel of the 11 draws and a couple of the losses we had, eight of those draws we should’ve won,” said Friedel, coaching his first game since being inducted in the National Soccer Hall of Fame last week. “It comes down to killer instinct in the final third, not giving away some individual errors, mentality, things of that nature. So we’re going to address that in the offseason.
“I did like the fact that with the exception of Toronto [4-1 loss] and Montreal [4-2 loss] away, and RSL, we were in the game to win it come the 90-plus minute and that’s what you need in the professional game. You never know when things change, you never know when red cards will happen, you never know when a goal will be allowed, disallowed, things of that nature. And now it’s down to attention to detail stuff and a lot of that is going to be down us as a staff to get it right in the offseason. But the players that we do take along with us will definitely be committed players and with a new training facility and some other things going on, we’re really looking forward to preseason training.”