The New England Revolution (9-12-9) are back above the red line. In their third game in a week, they defeated the Montreal Impact (9-9-11) for their third league win in a row. Following favorable results in both the D.C. United and Orlando City matches where each side dropped points, New England now sits two points clear of both in sixth. It was New England’s second win away from home all season.
It came just days after a crushing defeat in the U.S. Open Cup Final, and the Revs were without Gershon Koffie and Je-Vaughn Watson, who suffered injuries on Tuesday night. The difference between the Revolution’s diamond without Koffie and with Kamara is night-and-day. While still effective, Scott Caldwell does not have the defensive prowess of Koffie and required a bit more help from the team on the defensive end. Coupled with that is the target-style striker that is Kei Kamara, whose scoring ability is well known. But Kamara cannot put in the same defensive shift that Lee Nguyen did as the second forward in the tandem. With the less-defensive diamond going against some of the best attackers in MLS, it was going to be a tough challenge. But New England came out on top thanks to a brilliant performance by Kelyn Rowe (two goals, one assist) and some stellar attacking play from Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo.
It only took 23 seconds for the Revs to take the lead. Agudelo did well to bring the ball into a dangerous are and feed Kelyn Rowe, who sent in a high cross that found the head of Kamara, who easily beat Evan Bush.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 17, 2016
The goal was Kamara’s fifth MLS goal in a Revs shirt and his first since New England’s 3-1 loss to Orlando City in July. Kei now has ten goals on the season for both New England and Columbus.
Like all of the Revolution’s matches since the full time switch to the diamond 4-4-2, the match was wide open from the start. Montreal may not have gotten a touch on the ball before New England’s goal, but they got plenty of chances after that, trading opportunities back and forth. Didier Drogba was a constant threat for Montreal’s attack and nearly got on the end of several balls but Brad Knighton was always there to preserve the lead. Drogba and Ignacio Piatti had several nice link ups that nearly resulted in goals for the home side but the Revs defense did well to keep them off the score sheet.
Juan Agudelo nearly had his fifth goal in four matches when Bush couldn’t quite corral Lee Nguyen’s effort on goal. With New England on a counter, Nguyen let the ball fly from distance and Bush deflected it to Agudelo’s feet. Juan had an open net but a difficult angle, and he put the ball off the woodwork.
Kelyn Rowe’s shot off the post bounced the right way for the Revs, though. In the 28th minute, Rowe received a nice ball from Kamara and took a shot from distance that skipped past Bush and deflected off the goal post and in to double the lead. The central midfielder now has four goals in MLS play and New England were able to take a 2-0 lead into the break.
.@NERevolution have hit the most posts in 2016.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 18, 2016
After halftime, Kamara and Rowe continued their chemistry that got both a goal and assist in the first period. Kamara’s hold-up play often resulted in the Sierra Leone international feeding Rowe on a late run into the box for an attempt at goal.
But it was a few questionable calls that got Montreal back into the match. First, Harry Shipp fired and hit London Woodberry at close range. Woodberry turned — with his hands to his body — on the very edge of the area and struck Woodberry’s elbow. Referee Allen Chapman initially motioned for a free kick outside the box but then pointed to the spot. Drogba stepped up and beat Knighton to the left to bring the Impact within one.
Shortly after, Juan Agudelo was through on goal and brought down by Victor Cabrera. Chapman decided that it did not deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and only gave Cabrera a yellow card. The Revs nearly scored on the ensuing free kick, but Agudelo couldn’t quite beat Bush.
Kelyn Rowe finally broke through after a flurry of New England chances. Kamara and Agudelo nearly scored on a breakaway, with Kamara finding Agudelo free in the Montreal box but the American striker again struck the woodwork. The rebound fell to Rowe, who aimed for the bottom corner but the ball was cleared off the line by a Montreal defender. There was a mad scramble in the area on the ensuing corner and Kelyn Rowe pounced on a poor clearance and smashed it home for his fifth goal of the season.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 18, 2016
The Revs weren’t done attacking. Agudelo, Kamara, and Diego Fagundez all had great opportunities to extend their lead denied by last-ditch defense from Montreal. Agudelo was unlucky not to extend his goal streak on the night with several unlucky bounces and some nice saves from Evan Bush.
The Revs gave up a few chances for Drogba to pull a goal back with several long free kick attempts, but the Ivorian couldn’t capitalize. Montreal missed on a couple of other golden opportunities late in the second half from both Piatti and Oyongo but missed the frame altogether on both.
New England’s recent league performance is encouraging for a club that was well behind the back just one month ago. The change to the diamond 4-4-2 has reignited this Revs squad and their inspiring play has put them in the driver’s seat for the home stretch. They get the bottom-dwelling Columbus Crew next Sunday in an attempt to remain ahead of D.C. and Orlando.
New England XI (4-4-2): Brad Knighton; Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell, London Woodberry, Chris Tierney; Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe; Lee Nguyen (Femi Hollinger-Janzen 86′); Juan Agudelo (Teal Bunbury 82′), Kei Kamara
Unused Subs: Cody Cropper, Donnie Smith, Steve Neumann, Daigo Kobayashi, Darrius Barnes