Poor weather kept much of the 12,523-strong paying crowd from showing up at Gillette Stadium, but those that braved the elements were treated to a second-half show as the New England Revolution prevailed 2-0 over the Chicago Fire. Kelyn Rowe and Benny Feilhaber each had a goal and an assist as the Revs put away both goals within four minutes to sink their Eastern Conference rivals.
After a close loss in D.C. and a disappointing defeat to second-division side Harrisburg, the Revs needed the catharsis of victory to restore their confidence. And learning that they can still close games out didn't hurt, either.
"To put this one away, with the shutout, it's a great feeling for us," said Rowe. "And it's a good stepping stone for the next game."
Rowe entered the match as a 65th minute substitute and nearly scored with his first touch of the match, only to be denied by an excellent Sean Johnson save. In the 69th minute, when given another opportunity, he was careful not to miss.
"I thought that on my first touch, I had to take it inside and beat the defender," the Rookie said of his goal. "Second touch, put it away. You've got to put it away, and this one you've got to score, because the last one you missed."
But the young midfielder's night wasn't over. Just four minutes later, he turned provider and played a one-two with Benny Feilhaber on the right side of the box, playing his teammate in for the second goal of the night. The assist was his first of the season, on Feilhaber's first goal of the season. Feilhaber also notched the assist on Rowe's goal.
"I got a ball with just a ton of space on the right side," said Feilhaber. "Kelyn was running through the middle and I just put him through and followed up with my run. He just put me in perfectly."
Rainy conditions made things a little slippery out there for both sides, and it showed in the first half. New England had the better of the possession and the chances, but neither side could really get a rhythm going on the rain-slicked turf. The teams managed just one shot on goal each in the first 45 minutes.
The second half was looking like more of the same, although improving weather seemed to benefit the Fire, who began to have a lot more possession. It was Rowe's inclusion for the obviously-gassed Fernando Cardenas that really turned things around for the home team.
"[Rowe's] been pushing hard lately," said head coach Jay Heaps. "I think you saw when he came into the game, there was a different buzz about him. He's smart, he's played quickly. We like getting him in those situations where he can be a dynamic attacker for us."
The win improves New England's record to 5-7-1, with a 4-1-1 mark at home. The Revs will now get a week off to rest and recuperate before they are back in action on June 16th at Gillette Stadium against the Columbus Crew.