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New England Revolution beat Columbus to earn postseason spot

New England Revolution forward Diego Fagundez (14) leaps over a challenge by Columbus Crew forward Ben Speas (17) during the game at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday,  Oct. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Alex Holt)

New England Revolution forward Diego Fagundez (14) leaps over a challenge by Columbus Crew forward Ben Speas (17) during the game at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Alex Holt) Purchase photo reprints »

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Juan Agudelo scored midway through the first half and the New England Revolution beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 on Sunday to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2009.

The Revolution (14-11-9) needed to win their regular-season finale because Houston defeated D.C. United earlier in the day to also reach 51 points. New England moved from sixth in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of the playoffs, to third because it owns the tiebreaker against Houston.

New England finished the season with a 4-0-2 stretch and will take on Sporting Kansas City in the first round of the playoffs next weekend.

“It’s a credit all our guys because it wasn’t the prettiest game,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “They showed a lot more heart than any game I’ve seen because there were situations we had to fight and dig in deep. We lost the possession battle but every other battle I felt we won.”

Agudelo completed a crafty give-and-go with Lee Nguyen on the right side of the box and put away his ninth goal from 12 yards in the 28th minute.

The Crew (12-17-5) dropped their second straight game.

“There was no rhythm to the game unfortunately,” Crew interim coach Brian Bliss said. “That was their game plan. It worked.”

The Crew had a large portion of the possession to that point but a quick counterattack set the stage for New England to take the lead, thanks to the passing of Nguyen, who returned after serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

“Having that week off I was fresh,” Nguyen said. “I wanted to contribute as much as I could. Everybody worked so hard to make it happen.”

Agudelo has seven goals and one assist in 14 games since being acquired from Chivas USA on May 7. He was proud of how the Revolution was able to preserve the lead.

“It’s something we’ve been doing the last couple of games,” he said. “We were confident but not too confident. Our defense played awesome to finish it up. We’ve got one of the best defenses in the league.”

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