FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It felt like a postseason night at Gillette Stadium from the opening whistle with all sorts of desire and desperation surging through the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution. The considerable postseason stakes and significant crowd certainly added to the inherent stakes in this fraught and tense encounter.
The emotions fluctuated throughout the course of the game as the outcome wavered. Columbus interim boss Brian Bliss dubbed it "a heart attack a second" from his perch on the bench. Revolution coach Jay Heaps agreed with those claims as he watched his team conceded the lead twice before ultimately emerging with the 3-2 victory required to push their playoff chase into the final weekend.
“You could see both teams needed to win,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “Both teams risked a lot for the win. That's why the game was wide open. Credit Columbus because I thought they had an excellent second half. Every time we seemed to step ahead, they pounded back.”
The back-and-forth nature of the second half required diligence and persistence from the home side to emerge victorious. There were opportunities to create some breathing room – Diego Fagundez missed a gilt-edged header moments before Dominic Oduro drew the Crew level at 1-1 shortly before the hour – over the course of the night, but it never felt like a comfortable night.
It ultimately suited the Revs well enough, though. They kept their composure and reinforced their efforts to ensure a home setback would not derail. They recovered after Aaron Schoenfeld pegged them back at 2-2 after Chris Tierney restored the lead and then secured the necessary triumph when Fagundez swept home at the back post after 76 minutes.
“At the end of the day, they were throwing everything forward,” Soares said. “It's that's kind of situation, they're in the same situation [we are]. They're bombing forward, they're throwing everything forward. They're likely to score a goal like that. At the end when Diego put that one in, it was big time.”
At this stage of the season, the result matters far more than the process. Soares even noted the binary nature of the night, a win or go home scenario for both teams, as he reflected upon the events.
The final whistle offered the perfect ending for the Revs with the pursuit of a playoff berth now down to the final weekend. And they will take the experience and the knowledge gained from this match and the ones that came before it as they attempt to replicate those feelings at Crew Stadium next Sunday and secure their first playoff berth since 2009.