FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There were quite a few words spilled during the week about New England midfielder Lee Nguyen's first chance to face Vancouver since Whitecaps FC waived him on March 1.
Nguyen let his play say more than he ever could, registering two goals and an assist to spark the Revolution to a 4-1 victory over Vancouver at Gillette Stadium on Saturday in the only meeting between the two clubs this season.
Eric Hassli opened the scoring for Whitecaps FC after five minutes, but the Revs took control of the match from there. Nguyen replied a minute later before Saer Sene and Shalrie Joseph extended the lead for the hosts before halftime. Nguyen spectacularly volleyed home his second goal in the 72nd minute to guarantee the Revs would snatch all three points.
The win marked the Revolution's first since a 2-1 victory over Colorado on May 2, while Vancouver fell to their first defeat in four MLS matches with Camilo, Jay DeMerit and John Thorrington all omitted from the travel party with one eye on the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship finals against Toronto FC at BC Place on Wednesday. Regular central defender Martín Bonjour was also left on the bench.
Hassli started and finished a sweeping Whitecaps move after five minutes to open the scoring. The French striker chested down to Davide Chiumiento, prompting Chiumiento's ball down the right channel to Sébastien Le Toux. Hassli made a timely run through the middle and thrashed home Le Toux's pullback for his second goal of the season.
Vancouver's lead stood for less than a minute as Nguyen pounced for his first MLS goal. Blake Brettschneider's shot from inside the Whitecaps penalty area deflected off Young-Pyo Lee's back. The ball fell kindly into Nguyen's path and the ex-Vancouver midfielder curled his effort into the lower left-hand corner to level the proceedings at 1-1.
Nguyen continued to haunt his former side by playing a critical role in the second goal after 24 minutes. Chris Tierney played the ball to Nguyen's feet and the 25-year-old midfielder slotted a diagonal ball into Sene on the outside of the penalty area. The French striker turned Alain Rochat and tucked home his fourth goal of the season.
Another piece of suspect defending handed the Revs a third goal eight minutes later. Sene crossed the ball in from the right side and Carlyle Mitchell couldn't find a way to deal with the service. The ball fell to Joseph on the penalty spot and he lashed home his first goal of the season to stake the Revs to a two-goal lead at the break, 3-1.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Whitecaps create little vs. Revs
Vancouver looked to improve after the break and manager Martin Rennie introduced speedy rookie Darren Mattocks after 62 minutes, but Nguyen capped off his night and the Revolution's victory in style after 72 minutes.
Tierney lofted his throw straight into Nguyen's path 25 yards from goal. Nguyen weighed up the ball and then volleyed into the far corner to cap his perfect night and secure the three points for the home side.
The Whitecaps (5-3-2, 17 points), who played an Amway Canadian Championship match in midweek, get set for another two-match week. They host Toronto FC in the first leg of the ACC final on Wednesday night before welcoming the Seattle Sounders on May 19 in a Cascadia rivalry clash.
The Revolution (4-6-0, 12 points) look to continue their climb in the East with another home match against the Houston Dynamo, also on May 19.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Lee Nguyen||Inspired performance. Put all his skill and vision on display with two goals and an assist. His stunning volley will make the highlight rounds.|
|2||Saer Sene||The Frenchman is the real deal. Showed again he can create with the ball at his feet, but he's also making a forward's runs like the one that led to his 4th goal.|
|3||Benny Feilhaber||A solid match by Feilhaber, who not only kept the attack moving with his deft touches. Also contributed defensively by tracking back quite a bit on the night.|