Kei Kamara did not score a goal in his New England Revolution debut, but his presence helped spur his new squad to just their second win of the season in a 2-0 effort against the Chicago Fire. All night, the Revolution pressed forward and set up crosses in hopes of finding Kamara on the receiving end and as a result, Kamara had a team-high six shots on net (four on target). Kamara’s ability had already hurt New England in the past when he played against them and as a result, Jay Heaps and his staff had a good idea on how they could utilize Kamara’s skill-set.
“When you have someone in the League that you know well, when they come into the locker room with instant respect, it makes the team, it energizes the team,” said Heaps after the victory.
From the get-go, the Revolution were looking for Kamara to be the difference-maker. In the 13th minute, Kamara had a one-time opportunity just outside the six yard box that he hit weakly into the arms of Matt Lampson. Then, a few minutes later, Kamara and Lee Nguyen engaged in a give-and-go that led to a hard shot by Kamara off Lampson for a corner kick. Off the set piece, Nguyen slipped behind the defense and curled a ball off the post to give New England a 1-0 edge that they would never relinquish. The impressive sequence of passes between Kelyn Rowe, Scott Caldwell, and Lee Nguyen off the corner kick was a point of emphasis in practice.
“That’s one that we’ve run a couple of times, but we just felt like against the zone, we’d be able to get something like that,” said Heaps.
The secret name of the play also has some special meaning for Heaps, who played basketball under Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.
“It’s called ‘The Duke’. It’s got like a basketball cut in it.”
Overall, the Revolution wore down the Fire with solid possession play throughout the whole game as chances for Chicago came almost exclusively from counterattacks. With Kelyn Rowe getting his first start of the season at outside back, the Revolution defense still managed a clean sheet for Bobby Shuttleworth and were not pressed much during the game.
During the 77th minute, rookie and third round selection Femi Hollinger-Janzen was inserted into the lineup for Diego Fagundez. Less than ten minutes later, Hollinger-Janzen scored his first MLS goal off a header to seal the victory for New England. Hollinger-Janzen is only one of two third round draft picks who have played this season and he is the only one to have earned a goal and an assist.
“Definitely happy to get an actual goal this time. Words can’t describe how happy I was after it went in the back of the net,” said an ecstatic Hollinger-Janzen.
New England now has 13 points on the year and is in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference heading into next Saturday’s game against FC Dallas.