It was Agudelo's fourth goal in only six games with New England and this strike came in his first game back after a two-month absence with a knee injury. Agudelo, only 20, has signed a pre-contract with Stoke City and is expected to follow Major League Soccer's Brek Shea, Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu to Stoke when his current contract expires at the end of the 2013 MLS season. Agudelo is in his fourth MLS season since his debut as the New York Red Bulls' first-ever Homegrown player to join the first team.
"Juan [Agudelo] has a really good presence up there," said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. "He’s not afraid to receive it and when he receives it, he’s actually always dangerous when he holds it. It’s not just holding it to play it; it’s holding it to get people in and then giving it up. So for me, he gives players like Lee (Nguyen) and Kelyn (Rowe) a little bit more time to find the gaps, and Diego (Fagundez) as well."
With the win, the Revolution (9-9-6, 33 pts.) snapped its two-game losing streak and climbed to sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just one spot outside the playoff bracket. Chicago (9-10-4, 31 pts.) fell to seventh place in the East.
New line-up makes a difference
Besides Agudelo, Heaps made several changes to the Revolution's lineup, including starting veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis, who recorded his third shutout in three games this season and in his first start since March 23. Chad Barrett came in at right midfield for Saer Sene, Fagundez started at left midfield, Chris Tierney replaced Kevin Alston at left back and A.J. Soares paired with Jose Goncalves at center back in place of Stephen McCarthy.
"I think I've been doing this for long enough that the nerves are there, but it’s the excitement," said Reis. "You never know when it’s going to be your last game, you never know. You always got to enjoy getting out there."
New signing Charlie Davies made his first appearance for New England in the 79th minute, his first MLS action since October 19, 2011, when he played for D.C. United.
"Am I happy with my play?" said Davies. "Absolutely not. But it’s good to get the junk out of my system now, before we start getting into tougher situations. . . . I’m psyched for the games ahead and once I get my feet back under me after the craziest two weeks, three weeks, I think things will go much better than they had today."
After a scoreless first half, Agudelo put New England ahead in the 54th minute with his spectacular back-heel shot. Tierney sent a long pass out of the back and Agudelo looped the ball over Fire keeper Sean Johnson. It was Tierney's fifth assist and second game-winning assist on the season, and his 10th career game-winning assist.
The Revolution continued to push and take chances (18 shots overall) and Rowe finally scored the insurance goal in stoppage time. Lee Nguyen sprang Sene down the sideline, and his deflected shot was intercepted by Rowe, who brought the final score to 2-0. Rowe now has scored three goals this season and has added six assists.
Unfortunately, there was a post-game on-field skirmish which resulted in Bakary Soumare and Sene both being shown red cards when each player confronted other the team’s bench personnel.
The Revolution returns to action on Sunday, Aug. 25, when it hosts the Philadelphia Union at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on TV by Comcast SportsNet.
NE – Juan Agudelo (Chris Tierney) 54
NE – Kelyn Rowe (unassisted) 91+
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves ©, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Diego Fagundez (Ryan Guy 86), Lee Nguyen, Scott Caldwell, Kelyn Rowe, Chad Barrett (Charlie Davies 79), Juan Agudelo (Saer Sene 68)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Jerry Bengtson, Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy
STATS: Shots 18, Shots on Target 8, Corner Kicks 7, Saves 3, Fouls 7, Offsides 3, Passes 396 (82.1%), Possession 55.4%
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares, Dilly Duka (Daniel Paladini 73), Jeff Larentowicz ©, Arevalo Rios, Joel Lindpere (Alex 63), Juan Luis Anangono (Quincy Amarikwa 64), Mike Magee
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Logan Pause, Mike Videira, Hunter Jumper
STATS: Shots 7, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 3, Saves 6, Fouls 11, Offsides 3, Passes 322 (71.4%), Possession 44.6%
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution) 34
CHI – Bakary Soumare (ejection) 95+
NE – Saer Sene (ejection) 95+
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistant Referees: C.J. Morgante (AR1), Matthew Nelson (AR2)
Fourth Official: Kevin Terry Jr.