FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Saturday's match wasn't the New England Revolution's finest piece of work seen this season. Then again, any team would trade a pretty loss for a narrow win, especially against the worst team in the conference.
On a night in which they peppered the Chicago Fire net with 11 shots and recorded more than twice as many passes as their opponent (437-207), it took an 85th minute Je-Vaughn Watson goal to give the Revolution a 1-0 victory.
"Things weren't totally clicking in the final third," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "I felt like we had [control of] the game, and what we were dealing with from Chicago] was counterattacks and things like that. But when we were going for it, you could see there was a real commitment."
Saturday's performance -- which contained a number of missed opportunities from the hosts -- wasn't a surprising development given the Revolution's recent schedule.
A week ago, they were in Sandy, Utah battling both Real Salt Lake and the altitude in a match where they were able to come away with a 0-0 draw. Four days later, they went 120 minutes against the Philadelphia Union to grab a 1-1 (4-2 on PKs) U.S. Open Cup win.
So after a flight to and from the Mountain time zone and a mid-week match that went required penalties, it's fair to say the Revolution weren't in position to play their best brand of soccer on Saturday.
"Anytime we felt like we found a little bit of a seam, we were either a little bit off or we didn't find the right pass," Heaps said. "I think on a night where we're a little bit fresher, we find those chances a little bit easier. "
To be fair, some of those chances might have fallen their way against a lesser goalkeeper. Sean Johnson was called upon to make 10 saves on Saturday, with at least two of them "Save of the Week"-worthy.
Inside of 10 minutes, Johnson used his quick reflexes to reach up and tip a scoring shot from Kelyn Rowe that was headed for the upper 90. The second half featured a pair of similarly acrobatic efforts, both of which came from the right foot of Diego Fagundez, who fired one dangerous shot after another in the 83rd and 84th minutes.
"Sean Johnson made two or three great saves," Heaps said. "We just had to continue to fight and sometimes a set piece goal is the answer."
After 84 minutes of frustration in the final third, that answer arrived when a Chris Tierney corner kick found Watson in the box, where the Jamaican international nodded it through in the 85th minute.
"I was in a good spot," Watson said. "We've been practicing that all week so I know Chris can hit the ball and I know like the perfect spot where he's always putting them in. I was just focused on getting the ball in the back of the net."
Watson's goal -- his second of the week -- came at the tail end of a three-games-in-eight-day run in which he played every single minute.
"Yes, I'm tired," Watson said. "But, you know, I'm mentally strong. I have to do whatever I have to do to win the game. I just keep fighting, and at the end of the day, it pays off."
Watson and his Revolution teammates dominated in nearly every statistical category against the Fire on Saturday. On paper, it should have been a walk in the proverbial park for the locals, who are now unbeaten in their last three league matches.
Nevertheless, Heaps was impressed with the way his players stuck through it, tired legs and all, to find a way to win against a Chicago selection that would've been perfectly content to pocket a point.
"We had to wait for our moment where we could get everyone together, take a deep breath, and commit to making a play," Heaps said, "and that's what Je-Vaughn did."