FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Despite watching his club concede a series of late leads this summer, Revolution manager Steve Nicol had a good feeling as Saturday night’s match against FC Dallas transpired.
Sure, Shalrie Joseph’s 14th minute goal had put the Revs up 1-0. And yes, it had to have pleased Nicol to see keeper Matt Reis put on a goalkeeper clinic between the sticks.
But, even though all the signs had pointed toward victory, the Revs’ efforts had been foiled too many times for many to believe that another last-minute disappointment wasn’t imminent.
Yet, Nicol had a strange sense that this time around, his players would finally pull through and get that elusive fifth win of the season.
“It’s hard to explain,” Nicol said. “But you get a feeling. You kind of know when it’s your night. And to be honest, I sat there and felt as though we were going to get another goal.”
And that’s exactly what happened. After Benny Feilhaber whipped a corner kick into the mix, Ryan Cochrane nodded it toward the far post, where Rajko Lekic punched it in to validate Nicol’s intuition and close the door on Dallas.
“It was important because all it takes is a free kick or corner kick (for Dallas) to get lucky,” Lekic said of his 85th minute goal. “So when I scored that goal to make it 2-0, I was sure that we were going to get three points.”
Interestingly, Lekic, the club’s second-leading scorer (6 goals), wasn’t entirely comfortable taking the shot that sealed the deal for New England. The Danish striker, who is naturally right-footed, has often admitted his unbridled disdain for taking shots with his left leg.
“It came to my left foot and to be honest, I hate shooting with my left foot,” said Lekic. “But then I was like (forget) it, let me just try to hit it and I was so happy.”
So were his teammates after the match. In previous weeks, the scene inside the Revolution locker had been as quiet as a morgue, the air thick with disappointment.
But it was an entirely different sight -- and sound -- after their first home win since May 14th. With bass heavy party anthems blasting from the mp3 deck, many players were smiling and joking around, as the team could finally celebrate the fruits of their labor.
Even the gaffer was looking at the bright side of Saturday night’s result. Although the Revs’ last win prior to Saturday was back on July 20th, Nicol looked at his club’s ability to get points in their last four matches (1-0-3) as a step in the right direction.
“We’re undefeated (in our last four), which is a positive way to look at it,” Nicol said. “But I think we probably just deserved it.”
While the Revs may not have played mistake-free football against the Western Conference contenders, the collective team effort was evident for the entire 90. It was a sight that certainly gave Nicol good reason to believe that Saturday night wasn’t going to end in disappointment.
“I just had that feeling we weren’t going to make any mistakes and let them in,” Nicol said. “And we didn’t. “
Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.