Nguyen nets redemption to cap Revs' rally
Twenty-six minutes after watching Bill Hamid coolly cradle his first penalty attempt, Nguyen craved nothing more than to make it a distant memory when he stepped up and scored the game-winner to send the Revolution to a 2-1 comeback win over D.C. United on Saturday.
"I needed to redeem myself after that first one," Nguyen said. "But my teammates had my back, and the coaching staff had my back, and you're always going to be confident when they have your back like that."
It was a night in which the Revolution certainly needed to stay confident in one another, and what transpired in the opening minutes was proof positive of that.
In the 11th minute, Luis Silva played a low cross into the area, where Scott Caldwell attempted to clear it out of danger. But instead of sending it away from frame, Caldwell's ball rolled into the back of the net to give the guests a surprising early lead.
"It's obviously devastating that it happened that early in the game, or any point in the game," Caldwell said. "But the way my teammates picked me up and responded so quickly, the way we played out the rest of the half, and the rest of the game in general, was huge."
The Revolution wasted no time trying to get back on level terms. In the 24th minute, Andrew Farrell sent a long ball ahead for Dimitry Imbongo, who slipped through a pair of D.C. defenders before firing a shot that glided wide of the post.
Another opportunity arrived in the 36th minute, when Kelyn Rowe, who entered Saturday's game with five goals in his last five games, fired one of his patented, long-distance shots from 20 yards that just missed its intended target. Rowe sent another bid from distance minutes before the half, but once again, his shot veered away from frame.
Although the Revolution weren't able to find the board before the interval, Revolution coach Jay Heaps was nevertheless encouraged by what he saw from his players during the first half.
"We had a good conversation at halftime," Heaps said. "And in the second half, we really took the game and created a lot chances."
The first chance they found after halftime came in the 57th minute, after Nguyen was brought down by Dejan Jakovic inside the right edge of the area and referee Carlos Rivera pointed to the spot. But when Nguyen promptly sent it right to a diving Hamid, it seemed as if a Revolution victory simply wasn't meant to be.
"I was planning on going to that side and he read it early," Nguyen said. "And right in my mind, (during) my half-swing, I was like, '(Darn).' I couldn't change it in time, but credit to him. He made a great first save."
But before the hosts could reflect on their poor fortune, they responded with a flourish. A minute after Nguyen's miss, Saer Sene led Diego Fagundez with a long through ball into D.C.'s defending third. Fagundez beat a pair of defenders, then slipped it past Hamid to get the goal they'd longed to score.
"It was very important," Heaps said of the 58th-minute goal. "For our guys to stay up and react well, I liked that a lot."
Needing another strike to avoid a humbling draw -- not to mention a devastating blow to their postseason hopes -- the Revolution attacked at will, as D.C. dropped back in the hopes of squeezing out a road point.
The thought of a road point nearly turned into three in the 81st minute, when Conor Doyle chipped a shot over the reach of Matt Reis. But without the power needed to send it clean into the net, Reis raced back to swat it away before it crossed the line.
Less than a minute later, though, the Revolution picked themselves right back up after Nguyen was fouled inside the area again. And there was no question who was going to take it after Rivera pointed to the spot for the second time.
"It was just great to have the confidence from my teammates and the coaching staff," Nguyen said. "That's all I needed and after that (earlier miss)."