FOXBORO -- From the outside, one can only imagine the emotions running through the New England Revolution at halftime on Saturday night.
In search of their first win since the season opener on March 9, the Revs were also dealing with several off-the-field situations that have made for tough times at Gillette Stadium in recent weeks.
First, it was the news that defender Kevin Alston was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia. Then, it was the news of Matt Reis' father-in-law severely injured in the Marathon Monday bombings.
Alston remains around the team. And Reis spoke before Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Union, describing his heroic efforts at the Boston Marathon finish line to help his injured father-in-law.
While Alston and Reis are the most directly impacted, their teammates are also affected. And returning home after a tough 4-1 loss in New York last weekend was a perfect time for the Revs to take those emotions and turn it into three points.
They did just that with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia Saturday. But both goals came in the second half. In the first half, New England was as snake-bitten as snake-bitten could be, missing at least three prime scoring chances out front. Whether by save or by missing the net, the Revs just couldn't bury. It's been their biggest problem all season.
So at a scoreless halftime, the frustration had set in.
"A lot of frustration," said Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe after the game. "A lot of like, 'How did that not go in?'"
New England coach Jay Heaps said he looked into his players eyes at the half, and he saw a group that was ready to dig deep in the final 45 minutes.
He was right, because the Revs scored in the 61st and the 71st minutes to take a 2-0 win.
"Overall, when you come home after that loss [in New York], it was a night where we just had to draw a line in the sand and say tonight's got to be the time where we get forward and attack," said Heaps.
Diego Fagundez was the first player in the game to finish his scoring opportunity, putting New England up 1-0 in the 61st minute. The play got started as Lee Nguyen faked a shot at the top-right corner of the box and then slid a pass down to Rowe at the bottom-right corner of the box.
Rowe then quickly dropped it back to Fagundez, who finished with his right foot.
"We've been waiting for something like that for a while," said Fagundez. "We all wanted it. And it was up to someone to make a play. Kelyn just gave a good ball to me, and I just had to finish it."
He finished alright. But Rowe and Nguyen must also be credited for setting the play up.
"We put a lot of confidence in Kelyn and Lee to kind of step up there and be two playmakers, with Kelyn trying to penetrate and pick up loose balls, and Lee to be more of the playmaker with the ball at his feet," said Heaps. "The two of them have a nice style, and I think they did a nice one-two tonight."
"Lee played a great ball, good timing," said Rowe. "I got my head up, and I saw Diego drop off a little bit. And I saw [Philadelphia defender Jeff] Parke step towards the goal. I know Diego has a good right foot. I put it on and he put it away.
"I definitely know [Fagundez] is there the whole time," added Rowe. "I know Jerry's in the box running that first post like he usually does. He likes that in behind. And I know Diego is going to drop off and find a little space on top of the six, in that penalty area. And Lee's just hanging around at the top of the 18. So, you know these things. You know your players well. And I knew he was there the whole time."
Nguyen scored the second goal on a rebound out front after Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath stopped Saer Sene's initial shot from the left post, sealing the deal on New England's second win of the season.
"Those type of goals are what we strive for and work for," said Heaps. "But we had opportunities in the first half. It just felt like it was going to come. But we were about to sacrifice a live chicken pretty soon if it wasn't going in in the second half."
It went in in the second half, and led to a Bobby Shuttleworth shutout and three points for the Revolution on an emotional night at Gillette Stadium.
"How can you level out the ups and downs? It's been an emotional couple weeks," said Heaps. "We've been dealing with some stuff. On top of that, we haven't been hitting our peak performance offensively. So it took a lot from the guys tonight. Being a coach, I'm really proud of the group, the way they came together."