The New England Revolution decided to leave it late for a second week in a row, earning a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night on the strength of Diego Fagundez's last-second goal. The goal was Fagundez's first of the 2012 season.
Head coach Jay Heaps sprung a bit of a surprise both on the Sounders and on Revs fans, moving away from the usual 4-4-2 and running out a 4-3-3 with a midfield triangle of Shalrie Joseph, Clyde Simms, and Benny Feilhaber. Saer Sene and Lee Nguyen played wide with Blake Brettschneider the lone target man.
"We went with a little tactical shift, and I thought that by putting Saer wide it would open some space for him," said Heaps. "Unfortunately, as the game went on, we made the exact mistakes that we made in Toronto."
New England kicked off the scoring early, pulling ahead through Saer Sene's 12th minute strike, his eighth of the season. The Sounders players argued for offside, and they certainly had a case, but Sene's tap-in from a Brettschneider cross stood nonetheless.
Rave Green forward Eddie Johnson was not content to let it stand, however, and he put the Seattle offense on his back for the rest of the half. In the 23rd minute, Mauro Rosales pounced on a Florian Lechner giveaway and played in a dangerous cross to the far post. Johnson leaped well above his marker and thundered the header into the back of the net to even the scores. Then, in the 35th minute, Marc Burch was afforded far too much space on the left, and he picked out an excellent cross to Eddie at the far post. The former USA striker snapped his header on goal yet again, capitalizing on a miscue from Matt Reis and A.J. Soares.
Though New England continued to create chances, the Revs would have to wait until the final minute of stoppage time before they could finally breathe easy and maintain their fortress record at Gillette. After minutes of pressure on the Seattle goal, Fernando Cardenas launched a cross to Fagundez at the far post, and the teenage phenom, possibly the second-shortest player on the pitch, nodded it across goal and inside the post.
"I don't think it's about the battle," said Fagundez. "I think it's about who gets to the ball first."
Heaps' decision to run a different formation had the double-effect of allowing Sene the chance to get extra space and allowing Feilhaber to stay central, where he usually feels most comfortable. The shift paid some dividends; while the home draw was a little disappointing, 59.9% possession and 79.2% passing accuracy are not. The chances were there, but the finishing wasn't.
"It's tough to incorporate a new system perfectly," said Benny Feilhaber. "It was a good system for us, it allowed me a little more freedom, Lee had a little more freedom to go forward. But there are some things we can tinker with and try to make a little bit better."