FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With nothing but pride left to play for, the New England Revolution spoiled the Montreal Impact’s playoff hopes in a 1-0 win at Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening, riding Diego Fagundez’s 50th career goal to the full three points in both teams’ season finale.
A tweet put out by Fagundez’s father’s Twitter account two hours prior to kickoff suggested Sunday’s match could be the player’s last with the Revolution.
If this was Fagundez’s swansong, he went out the right way.
Fagundez broke a scoreless deadlock in the 75th minute, his low drive off a Cristian Penilla trivela screaming into the lower corner of the net past Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush. With the strike, the 23-year-old Fagundez became the youngest player to reach 50 career goals in Major League Soccer.
It was fitting for Fagundez, a local player from Leominster, Mass., to hit the milestone with New England’s all-time leading scorer, Taylor Twellman, in attendance for his concussion awareness venture, Think Taylor.
But Fagundez’s goal was the lone source of excitement on an otherwise drab evening.
The Revolution went with somewhat of a hybrid lineup, using homegrown product Zachary Herivaux at right back, where he’d never played, while Kelyn Rowe slotted back into midfield and Matt Turner started in net for the first time since Sept. 1.
New England’s formation, which alternated between a 4-5-1 and a 3-4-2-1, produced few attacking chances until Fagundez’s goal.
And though the Impact were facing a must-win situation with D.C. United, Philadelphia and Columbus all vying for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff position, the Impact created few scoring opportunities.
The Impact’s best play came between the 50th and 72nd minutes. Turner made three saves within that stretch, halting a bid from Quincy Amarikwa from close range and parrying two efforts from outside the box by Alejandro Silva and Samuel Piette.
Oct 28, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez (14) takes off his shirt and celebrates with midfielder Luis Caicedo (27) after scoring a goal against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Ignacio Piatti also fired inches wide off a giveaway by New England’s Luis Caicedo in the 56th minute.
The Revs managed to hang on for their seventh clean sheet of the season.
Sunday marked the third consecutive year that the Revolution played the Impact in the season finale. The Revolution have won every encounter, including on the road at Montreal in 2017, and have outscored their opponent 7-2.
Earlier in the game, Andrew Farrell was named the Revolution’s Defender of the Year and Penilla was named the team’s Most Valuable Player.
In addition, the 2018 season marked the first time since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002 that the Revolution did not play a single game with National Football League markings painted on the field.