With five MLS Cup rings and an overall record of 34-12-6 in the playoffs, it’s safe to say that Bruce Arena is familiar with the postseason. This year he’s trying to bring the elusive league trophy to New England.
Arena and the Revolution took an important step on Tuesday when they recorded a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, this year’s Supporters’ Shield winners. Having gone 0-4-1 in their previous meetings, the Revs were considered the underdogs.
But the regular season is different from the playoffs.
“I think teams who had veteran players and most players returning and had an identity as a team were going to have an advantage during the regular season because of less practice time, the layoff, and all that kind of stuff,” Arena told media after the win. “And then when playoff time comes around and other teams that are in it have a little more time together, they’ll challenge the teams that were very good during the regular season.”
With all three of their Designated Players in the starting lineup for only the fourth time this season, the Revs looked primed for the playoffs. They played the type of soccer that was expected of them at the start of the season.
Adam Buksa struck first when he got his head on the end of a Carles Gil free kick. The Revs doubled their lead four minutes later when Tajon Buchanan beat Andre Blake.
Those two goals were monumental for the lower seed team. Before this game, Arena was 27-0-3 when his teams score first. There was no letdown on Tuesday, as the Revs secured the 2-0 win to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinal for the first time since 2014.
So what makes Arena so successful in the playoffs? Matt Turner had some thoughts.
“His attention to detail is second to none,” Turner said. “He also gives a lot of guys freedom to create, freedom to roam the field, freedom to be themselves and express themselves on the field and I think that guys have responded really well to it. It comes with goods, it comes with bad, and I think overall he just knows how to prepare teams to play in the playoffs and it showed in our last two games.”