Nguyen saves day for Revs on second try at PK

Nguyen saves day for Revs on second try at PK
September 21, 2013, 11:15 pm
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FOXBORO -- Lee Nguyen took two people off the hook on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

Scott Caldwell and himself.

Nguyen scored the game-winning goal in the New England Revolution's 2-1 victory over D.C. United. It came in the 83rd minute, on a penalty kick.

But it wasn't his first attempt. Nguyen missed his first penalty kick of the night, in the 55th minute, as he went low-left. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid guessed correctly and made the diving stop. A goal would have tied the game at 1-1. But even after receiving the penalty kick on a very questionable call, D.C. United held a 1-0 lead.

"I was planning on going to [left] side, and he read it early," said Nguyen after the game. "Right into my half swing, I knew, I was like, 'Crap.' I couldn't change it in time."

One minute later though, Saer Sene sent a perfect lead pass down the right side, and Diego Fagundez was able to finish low-left to tie the game at 1-1, something Nguyen couldn't do moments prior.

In a heated playoff race for the last spot in the Eastern Conference, one point at home just isn't enough. The Revolution needed the three points.

Perhaps Fagundez' goal would have been the game-winner, had Revs midfielder Scott Caldwell not put the ball in his own net in the 11th minute, giving D.C. United an early 1-0 lead.

"It's obviously devastating when that happens that early in the game, at any point of the game," said Caldwell afterwards. "But the way my teammates picked me up and responded so quickly, the way we played out the rest of that half and the rest of the game in general, is huge."

Caldwell attempted to break up a United cross-field pass at the top of the box, but his sliding effort resulted in him kicking the ball into his own goal. Had he let it go, it would have went right to Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis. Instead, it ended up a 1-0 game.

"At the last second, I saw Matt [Reis] was coming," said Caldwell. "I just really didn't have time to react and let it go. I still thought I could have won the ball, but I misplayed it. So, I couldn't do anything about it."

"He bounced back in the second half," said Revolution coach Jay Heaps about Caldwell. "I thought he was instrumental in the way we played. He was excellent.

"Look, you're talking to a guy that probably had four or five own-goals in his career," added Heaps. "Own-goals happen. Own-goals mean you're defending. No one wants to put it in . . . I knew he was going to handle it well. Here's a kid who we've asked so much from this year, and every day, whether it's training or in the game, he steps on the field and performs. And tonight I thought he was instrumental in the second half."

After Fagundez' goal -- and with one point not going to cut it -- Nguyen got a second opportunity to bury a penalty kick in the 83rd minute.

"I knew it was a mind game after that, because he read the first one," said Nguyen. "I was thinking about going down the middle after that. it was just great to have the confidence from my teammates and my coaching staff.

"I wanted to take it," added Nguyen. "I had to redeem myself."

And he did just that.

Nguyen tapped it middle-right after missing low-left the first time, and United goalkeeper Hamid guessed the same side he guessed on the first one. But he was wrong, and Nguyen gave New England a 2-1 lead and an eventual 2-1 win.

"I think that was a gutsy performance from him," said Heaps. "Because those are not easy. Again, you're talking to a guy who's missed a couple PK's in his career. Those are tougher than own-goals. Because own-goals aren't really your fault. PK's are tough to come back from, and I thought Lee stepped up and really delivered."

At the half, trailing 1-0, Revolution players said they called the game a "must-win." That notion would essentially put even more pressure on someone like Caldwell, who's own-goal in the first half was the only reason New England trailed after 45 minutes.

But Nguyen's game-winner saved the day. It saved his team. It saved himself from scrutiny after missing his first penalty-kick. And it saved Caldwell from being the difference in obtaining one point or three.