Defender A.J. Soares scored the only goal of the game in the 88th minute and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made a career-high seven saves to notch his second straight shutout as the New England Revolution closed the 2012 season with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo.
Soares notched the dramatic game winner in the late stages, rising highest to meet Chris Tierney’s free kick and guide an excellent header past Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
The victory – New England’s second of the campaign on the road – improved the Revolution’s final regular season record to 9-17-8 (35 pts.), while the loss dropped the Impact’s mark to 12-16-6 (42 pts.) in the club’s inaugural MLS season. Both sides missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Benny Feilhaber returned from suspension to regain a starting role, while Fernando Cardenas and Tierney also started in midfield as the Revolution made three changes to the side which beat the Chicago Fire in last weekend’s home finale.
Montreal had the game’s first real chance in the eighth minute when Jeb Brovsky broke free down the left and drilled a dangerous cross into the box. The pass eluded Shuttleworth – who’d charged off his line – but Kevin Alston was on hand to make a vital block and clear the danger.
Brovsky continued to pose a threat on the left side and delivered another teasing cross in the 21st minute, this time directed at Marco Di Vaio. The Italian forward connected on a volley, but Clyde Simms was well positioned to block the shot.
The Revs responded with a bit of their own pressure in the 28th minute when Cardenas and Diego Fagundez combined on a well-worked one-two down the right wing. Fagundez eventually slipped a square pass into the box for Cardenas, whose tight-angle shot was denied by Perkins.
Montreal came inches from breaking through in the 50th minute when Di Vaio’s low cross from the byline slipped through Shuttleworth’s legs at the near post and rolled across the face of goal. Shuttleworth was sharper just moments later, diving to his left to push away Davy Arnaud’s long-range blast.
In the 56th minute it was Soares and Ryan Guy who made crucial blocks inside the box, snuffing out back-to-back efforts from Di Vaio and Andrew Wenger. Montreal substitute Justin Mapp had a pair of chances in the 73rd minute, but his first shot was saved by Shuttleworth and his second attempt flew over the crossbar.
Shuttleworth came up big again in the 82nd minute when he got low to stop Di Vaio’s 20-yard free kick, while he got some help from Blair Gavin in the 86th minute when the Revolution substitute cleared Arnaud’s close-range effort off the line.
After absorbing pressure for much of the match, the Revs snatched all three points with a picture-perfect set piece in the 88th minute. Tierney’s in-swinging service from the right channel found Soares, who eluded his marker and deftly headed home his second goal of the season.
Di Vaio had one final chance for the Impact to grab an equalizer deep into stoppage time, but Shuttleworth was again on hand to scoop up the shot and make sure the Revs closed the season with their first-ever win in Canada.