The New England Revolution returned to action last night after more than a 120 day absence and did so in winning style. It was the teams first win of the season, beating Montreal Impact by a scoreline of 1-0, improving their record to 1-1-1.
Like the two previous matches in the MLS is Back Tournament, the first half ended scoreless between the two teams. Although rather than the scoreline showing two teams lacking match sharpness, it was actually the Revolution dominating play and will be kicking themselves they didn’t kill off the game in the first half.
It was all Revolution in the first 45 minutes, which later proved to be the story of the game. The Revolution created a variety of threatening chances and stifled the Impact’s attack as the Canadian club rarely poised any real threat to scoring.
The closest the Revolution came to breaking the deadlock was right on the eve of halftime; Gustavo Bou took a pass out of the air from Scott Caldwell and was through on goal, fully expected to score. Impact’s goalkeeper, Clement Diop, rushed out, and ‘La Pantera’ chipped the keeper only for his shot to go just wide.
Bou didn’t wait long for his next chance though, thanks to an assist from Carles Gil, playing in his first game back from injury. In the 56th minute, the club captain picked Bou out in the box, and the Argentine did the rest with a brilliant finish — a quick shimmy to cut inside on the defender taking it from his right to left foot and sending the ball into the top half of the net. 1-nil Revolution.
Bou’s first goal of the season proved to be the game winner even though there should’ve been more. Gil created 12 chances alone and as expected, made the team much more threatening on the attacking front compared to the first two games of the season where the Spaniard was sidelined.
Similar to Gil, other players on the Revolution looked lively, all contributing to the attacking plan that Bruce Arena set out. Debutant Alexander Buttner in defense looked a reliable left back, completing 88% of his passes and winning 10 duels, the most in the game.
Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe got the nod in midfield, and even though it was surprising, if both players can replicate their performance, it’ll be hard for anyone else on the Revolution to break into the midfield two.
The Revolution’s front-four also created a dynamic that caused many problems for the Impact’s defense. Even though the Impact may have tried to limit the space of Gil or Bou, Cristian Penilla and Adam Buksa are two players you don’t want to let have the ball either. This dynamic created a lot of space for the Revolution to attack into, and is why the team finished with 19 shots and multiple chances. A 1-0 scoreline is deceiving, and on another day, this match could’ve ended 2-0 or 3-0.
Luckily for the Revolution’s sake, one goal was all that was needed thanks to an encouraging display from a defense missing central defender Andrew Farrell. Most notably though, were the heroics of goalkeeper Matt Turner.
In the dying seconds of the game, Ballou Tabla of the Impact fired a rocket from outside the box that looked certain to tie the game but Turner had other plans. Turner dove, fully stretched out and made the finger-tip save giving the Revolution a much needed three points in Group C.
Outside of this chance and a few pockets of play in the second half, the Revolution were in full control of the match even though the Impact won the possession battle, 56 to 44 percent. The Impact only managed seven shots, two on target, and six chances.
It was an encouraging display for Arena’s squad and should give the Revolution a great deal of momentum heading into their next match on July 16th against DC United.
What did you make of the Revs in their return to action and does this game lead you to believe they’re a contender to win the tournament? Let us know in the comments!