FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sometimes, you just need a little bit of luck to break out of a scoring slump.
After knocking on the door for the first 290 minutes of the season, the New England Revolution finally broke through in the 21st minute -- albeit with the help of a fortuitous deflection -- during Saturday's 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
The play that put the Revolution on the board for the first time in 2015 originated on a ball that Daigo Kobayashi won in the midfield. The central midfielder then sent it forward to Lee Nguyen, who cut it inside for Kelyn Rowe. With an opening he couldn't say no to, Rowe blasted a shot from the top of the 18 that deflected off the forehead of San Jose defender Shaun Francis before it fell through.
"I saw it hit the guy and then go in, but I wasn't planning on it hitting the guy in the head," Rowe said, with a laugh. "If I did, that'd be pretty great."
It may not have been the way Rowe drew it up, but all that mattered was that the Revolution had a lead for the first time all season. And it was a lead they would build upon, without the help of a lucky bounce.
The Revolution spent much of the first half on the gas pedal, relentlessly pressing their guests. Rowe was a central figure in that effort, and not only because of his goal-scoring heroics.
"I thought Kelyn was excellent," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "Not just scoring the goals, but also the way he pressured and the way he played (with) the connection with Charlie (Davies) up top, and also the midfielders."
With the first half winding down, the hosts capitalized on another opportunity. Chris Tierney sent a free kick from the left flank that found Darrius Barnes, who glanced it forward. A split-second later, Rowe pounced on it and pushed it through in the 37th minute to secure a two-goal lead going into halftime.
"You just have to be aware," Rowe said. "You're inside the box on a free kick, and anything could happen. Darrius is a guy who's always going to get his head on the ball and, for me, I was going to the near post and I turned around, and it was there. It was one of those you just have to put in the back of the net."
As good as they looked in the first half, the opportunities weren't as easy to come by for the Revolution in the second half. San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear made two substitutions at the break, and changed his formation to close the gap.
"Give them credit: they came out ready, and we came out a little bit sleepy, and that's why we were down 2-0 at the half," Kinnear said. "We fought hard to get back into the game."
While the first Revolution goal may have come from a lucky break, San Jose also received a measure of good fortune in the 61st minute.
New England's Scott Caldwell was called for a foul on San Jose's Clarence Goodson that appeared to take place just outside of the box. But referee Jose Carlos Rivero pointed to the spot to indicate that the foul took place inside the box, and seconds later Chris Wondolowski converted the penalty.
With the Revolution defense withstanding heavy pressure, Matias Perez Garcia sent a corner kick near-post for Victor Bernardez, who forced Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to react quickly in order to tip it over the bar in the 83rd minute. In stoppage time, Wondolowski and Jean-Baptise Pierazzi both found chances, but couldn't convert.
Despite the close calls at the end, the Revolution ultimately held on. And with their scoring drought over, the club's collective confidence was boosted as a result.
"I think it picks it up a little bit," Rowe said of that first goal. "It's not easy going three games without a goal, and only having one point. It's good to find those goals. It's good to play well, and create those chances. I think the confidence is going to be higher, and I think you'll find goals from other guys, as well."