Since Jay Heaps took over as head coach in 2012, the New England Revolution’s single greatest asset has been their ability to generate goals from any player on the field.
So when homegrown midfielder Scott Caldwell – a stay at home, possession-oriented midfielder who entered Saturday night’s game against Real Salt Lake with just two career goals to his name – struck in the fourth minute of a 4-0 rout at Gillette Stadium, the Revolution were showing the best of themselves.
Kei Kamara, Diego Fagundez, and Lee Nguyen poured on additional strikes in the first half as the Revolution snapped a five-game winless run.
But it was Caldwell’s goal, according to Heaps, that put the Revs on the right track.
“Go back and watch the film when he scores and watch everyone get a little bit more excited when he scores,” Heaps said. “You can look at the entire bench. You can look at the field. We love him.
“I’m going to say it this way. I have a daughter and if she meets a guy like Scott [Caldwell], I’ll be thrilled. That’s probably too honest right now, but that’s how I feel about Scotty. He’s that kind of guy. He’s as honest as they come as a person, but also on the field. He won’t quit and that’s what we love about him.”
The Revolution didn’t quit, either – which was a welcome change. With 30 percent of their season done, the Revs’ recent results drought was hallmarked by blown leads, mental lapses, and inconsistency in play. Caldwell’s contributions – Heaps’ colorful praise aside – may have been the match that lit the fuse on Saturday, but the aggregate team effort kept the hosts on top for the duration of the game.
Goalkeeper Cody Cropper made three saves and, with the help of his back line, collected the Revolution’s third clean sheet of the season.
“Obviously, we wanted to make sure that we did not give anything up and I thought in the second half, there wasn’t much there,” Heaps added. “First half, they did some good things. They had some new players in there…So, they’re really kind of playing like a false nine. They were just able to find the ball. We corrected that in the second half and I thought we were able to stop them from doing what they were doing so well in the first half.”
Caldwell emerged unmarked in the penalty area to bury a cross from the left flank by Diego Fagundez just three minutes, 47 seconds into the game.
New England doubled their advantage in the 18th minute as Kei Kamara, who missed the last two games due to the birth of his son, headed in a corner kick by Lee Nguyen.
Kelyn Rowe slipped into the box in the 34th minute, then played the ball across the area for Fagundez, who slid the feed into the back of the net to make it 3-0. Nguyen recorded his fifth goal of the season in the 41st, sniping to the lower left corner of the net after receiving the ball from Kamara near the top of the 18.
“The offense on this team is good,” said Kamara. “It’s not one guy that can score goals. Obviously, it showed again tonight. A lot of guys can put balls in the back of the net, but it’s again, we got to work together to help the guys behind us and keep going back behind us – behind us from the midfield to the defenders and all that. So, offense is never a problem, you know? But you can see, everybody can score goals, but we got to work defensively.”
Salt Lake entered Saturday’s match in a rut of their own and have now lost their last four games. Even so, the Revolution couldn’t afford to fall further back in the Eastern Conference standings after a number of lackluster performances and results.
Talk had started to bubble up on social media regarding the team’s bad form, plus dissatisfaction about the tactical decisions made by Heaps, and anything less than a win at home would have been devastating.
New England host Columbus next Sunday, then play two road games in New York against the Red Bulls (May 27) and NYCFC (May 31) before playing five of seven games at Gillette Stadium between June 3 and July 29.
That gives the Revolution an advantage to write some of their early season wrongs, and for Heaps to build upon a promising – albeit fairly routine – 4-0 win on Saturday.
“We are improving, which is a good thing, but we have to continue to get better,” said Chris Tierney. “Even in a 4-0 game today, I thought in the second half, none of us played as well as we would have liked. There’s a lot to improve upon, but the good news is we got a lot of home games coming up. We got games against in-conference teams, so a lot of chances to move up the standings, which is what we want to do.”