The New England Revolution drew the curtains on their 12-day excursion to the Sunshine State with a 2-1 comeback win over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Darrius Barnes scored the game-winner in stoppage time while Dimitry Imbongo grabbed the Revolution’s opening goal in the 34th minute to help steer the club to their first win of the preseason. Former Fire midfielder Andy Herron handed the Strikers an early lead with a 24th minute goal.
“We struggled early on to find the game a little bit,” Barnes told revolutionsoccer.net. “As the game went on, we started to find our rhythm, started to find our flow, and started to ping the ball around.”
Despite arriving just before the 3pm kickoff, the Strikers stepped on the pitch ready to best their big league opponent, albeit in a preseason scrimmage.
The plucky NASL side secured an early lead when Herron beat an offside trap and went alone on Luis Soffner, who could do little as the Striker midfielder slid it through in the 24th minute.
New England didn’t waste time filing a response. Ten minutes after Herron’s goal, O’Brian Woodbine found Pierre Omanga on a throw-in before the trialist found Imbongo, who shoved it inside the far post.
While one trialist shined with the spotlight cast upon him, another wasn’t so fortunate. In the 51st minute, Melo was elbowed in the head, and had to be replaced by Donnie Smith.
Heaps overhauled his lineup at the hour mark, bringing on seven substitutes for the final 30 minutes. And not long after, one of the newcomers was the recipient of a rude awakening.
In the 66th minute, Patrick Mullins was felled by studs up challenge and a red card was issued to the unidentified Striker player at fault. But Heaps asked the Strikers to keep 11 men on the pitch in order to simulate a full-strength match.
The Revolution pressed for the game-winner with the clock winding down, and found it just before the final whistle. In the 90+1 minute, Kelyn Rowe curled a corner to A.J. Soares, who flicked it to the far post, where Barnes coolly tucked it in.
“When you’re playing preseason games, it’s kind of tough because lineups change, and different groups are coming in and out,” Barnes said. “But throughout those periods, I feel like we’ve (showed) some of our better stuff.”
The 2-1 win gave the Revolution a 1-0-2 record during their stay at IMG Academy, which will officially come to an end when they depart for Boston on Friday.
- Soffner made his first start of the preseason on Thursday after Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton started between the sticks during the first two games.
- Barnes and trialist Jossimer Sanchez were the only two Revolution players to go the full 90.
- Three Strikers players were issued cautions.
- Andrew Farrell, who freelanced at defensive midfielder and center back in the previous two games, was held out of Thursday’s match due to a calf injury.
- The Revolution will spend a week in Foxborough before they embark on a second preseason trip to Tucson, Ariz. for the Desert Diamond Cup tournament.