FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s playoff hopes were dangling by a thread several weeks ago.
After another vital performance by Lee Nguyen – this time in a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday night – that thread became a tad bit stronger and fears of missing out on the postseason for two years straight were somewhat lifted.
“This was what it was going to take to get above the red line, we know that,” Nguyen said. “Montreal is a good team that gave us a good battle, but we needed the three points and the guys fought through. Luckily we were able to get that goal.”
When asked about Nguyen coming up clutch yet again, head coach Jay Heaps said he felt the night was begging for a special moment. He feared it’d come on a counter-attack by Montreal, but instead Nguyen provided the lift.
“He’s a class player,” Heaps said. “I think he shows it year after year in crunch time, and tonight was as crunch time as you can get. There weren’t four goals like last game. We needed one and he found it and created it and he scored it.”
What loomed large, though, was the importance of getting three points against Montreal, a team the Revs must leapfrog to sneak into the playoffs. They’ll play them again on Oct. 22 up in Québec, and plenty of “six-pointers,” as forward Teal Bunbury called them during midweek, remain to close out the 2017 season.
The first one comes on Wednesday at Atlanta United FC, as the Revs must make up ground on Tata Martino’s group to make the playoffs. Cognizant of that, Heaps channeled his best Bill Belichick impression, saying that “we’re onto Atlanta” adding that they’ve already broken down film for that clash.
But to get a result, New England must tackle its road demon — an 0-10-3 record away from Gillette Stadium. That importance wasn’t lost on Nguyen.
“We have to keep the same mentality,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy. This is another tough team that has a lot of great attacking players, so I think we can stay solid and try to hold the fort down defensively. We’re a team that can punish teams on the other end, so it’s … going to be another battle like today.”