MONTREAL – One clinical sequence in front of goal made 89 minutes of toil worthwhile for New England.
Montreal defender Jeb Brovsky fouled Revolution defender Ryan Guy on the right flank with two minutes to play in the Revs' 1-0 victory at Stade Saputo on Saturday afternoon. It didn't matter that the Revs had spent much of the second half ably soaking up pressure from the Impact and had struggled to keep possession for most of the game. This opportunity handed them a chance to claim all three points.
Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney trotted over from the left flank to take the free kick. He usually draws set-piece duties in the attacking third and typically embarks on this sort of chance – essentially a corner kick – in relatively straightforward fashion.
“We worked on them this week,” Tierney told MLSsoccer.com. “I'm just trying to hit an area to make the goalkeeper think about coming and try to get their defenders backpedaling so A.J. [Soares] and Darrius [Barnes] and our guys who are dangerous in the air can get a run.”
The area Tierney picked out – a location near the top of the goal area that tends to paralyze defenders and goalkeepers alike – overlapped with Soares' near-post run. Soares benefited from the fact that Montréal substitute Sinisa Ubiparipovic drew the assignment to mark him, but the size advantage didn't really affect what he wanted to do with his run. Above all else, he wanted to get across the face of his defender and run into a dangerous area.
“I think, in that case, it doesn't really matter who is marking me,” Soares said. “What I'm doing is spreading from him. I'm not going over him. If the guy's seven-foot tall, he's still not getting to it. But sometimes, teams mark me hard. Sometimes, they don't. Fortunately today, I got my head on it.”
The ensuing sequence resembled a header Soares scored from a Tierney corner kick in a 3-2 defeat at D.C. United in May: committed run toward the service, separation from a marker, glancing header to the far post and the ball tucked into the side of the net.
It provided a perfect cap to a committed performance. Soares and Tierney passed credit for the winner to each other as they reflected on the moment, but the rewards surged through the entire side. On this day and at the end of this long season, the goal offered vindication for all of the defensive work that went into it.
“We had to gut for everything tonight,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “Everyone played as hard as they could to get every inch tonight. We scored a set piece goal at the end, which, for us, there haven't been very many of them. This is a good way to build on the maturity [we need] and it's a good thing for identity purposes.”