A little over 24 hours after clinching their first Supporters’ Shield title in club history, the New England Revolution returned to action as they traveled to Exploria Stadium to take on Orlando City.
Bruce Arena had hinted at rotation for the Revolution’s starting lineup as the regular season nears an end. Arena indeed delivered as nine changes were made to the Revolution’s starting lineup from their 3-2 win over DC in their previous match-up.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner and veteran defender Andrew Farrell were the only two names to make back-to-back appearances as Christian Mafla, Jon Bell, AJ DeLaGarza, Luis Caicedo, Maciel, Arnór Traustason, Ema Boateng, Wilfrid Kaptoum, and Teal Bunbury all made their way back into the lineup.
Sunday’s match would not be easy for the Revs as Orlando entered high on a four-game unbeaten, which most recently saw them secure a 1-1 draw against CF Montreal in their previous outing.
DeLaGarza looked to get the Revs offense rolling in the 7th minute as he drove the ball down the right side of the pitch. DeLaGarza would angle a low cross into the box as it bounced past the Orlando defense. Boateng looked to get a foot onto the ball as it crossed his path, but he was a tad too late as the ball skipped by him and away from the Orlando net.
Things looked nervy for the young defensive unit as USMNT striker Daryl Dike drove himself and the ball into the Revs box. Midfielder Luis Caicedo put on the heroics as he cleanly dove in and dispossessed Dike before he could pose a threat towards Matt Turner or the Revs goal.
Former Revs II product Jon Bell wasn’t afraid to stand up to the imposing striker in the 9th minute as he put himself in danger as he challenged Dike in the air and was able to deflect the ball away from the leaping striker.
A stroke of luck came the Revolution’s way in the 16th minute as Mauricio Pereyra found himself open in the box after breaking through the Revs backline. Pereyra turned and began advancing towards Turner and the Revolution net until he tripped and fell to the pitch as the Revs defense cleaned the ball up and cleared it away from danger. A huge opportunity that could have seen Orlando take an early lead over the Revs luckily avoided thanks to gravity.
Things got chippy between DeLaGarza and Orlando midfielder Nani in the 23rd minute. The two had exchanged a series of harsh fouls up to that point. The two proceeded to get into each other’s face and exchange some words. Nani made the altercation physical as he slapped away AJ’s hands. The fourth official was quick to intervene as he got in the middle before things got more physical.
Turner came up big in the 34th minute as Junior Urso sent a cross into the Revs box. Dike eased the defensive pressure as he leaped into the air and headed the cross towards the goal. Luckily Turner was at the right place at the right time as he swiftly scooped the ball and ended Dike’s chance.
Nani would electrify the crowd inside a damp Exploria Stadium in the 39th minute as he was able to leap into the air and catch his head on a perfectly placed cross from João Moutinho and slotted the ball past Turner and into the back of the net.
Two substitutions were made to the Revs lineup before the second half could begin. DP’s Adam Buksa and Carles Gil would enter the match as they replaced Boateng and Caicedo.
Things got worse for the Revolution in the 50th minute as Nani would draw a penalty kick for Orlando after being fouled by DeLaGarza inside the Revolution box. Revs fans hoped to see Nani step up to the spot for Orlando as the Portuguese midfielder had been denied from the spot twice by Turner over the past year.
Fans will remember Turner’s incredible penalty kick save in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, which kept the Revs in the lead and allowed the Revs to secure the win over Orlando in the Conference Semifinals.
Dike would be the one to step up to the penalty spot. The inexperienced penalty kick taker was in for a challenge as Tuner holds a 75% save percentage on penalty kicks. After staring down the net, Dike would send a laser of a shot to Turner’s left. Turner would dive in the right direction, but the 6-foot-2 forward’s shot had too much power on it as it rocketed into the back of the net.
Down 2-0 early in the second half, the Revs needed a miracle if they wanted to return to Foxboro with any points.
Turner would keep the Revs hopes alive in the 54th minute as he swiftly reacted to a redirected shot from Chris Mueller as he scooped the ball up before anyone could capitalize.
The Revs final three substitutions came in the 64th minute as Tajon Buchanan, Gustavo Bou, and DeJuan Jones would enter the match for DeLaGarza, Traustason, and Mafla. Jones looked to find the equalizer in the 74th minute but had his shot deflected away by Ruan.
Buksa revived the Revs in the 81st minute as he darted into the box to find Bou’s cross. Pedro Gallese took a few steps forward, but it wouldn’t be enough as Buksa extended his left foot and connected with the ball as he sent it into the back of the net.
Gallese got the home fans riled up in the 86th minute as he was able to get his hands on Jones’ shot inside the box and deflected it away from a lingering Buksa. Although they had a good chance denied by Gallese, the Revs were not discouraged and continued bringing the fight to Orlando.
With six minutes added onto the second half, the Revs needed to find something and fast if they wanted to salvage a point out of the match.
After receiving Gil’s pass at the top of the box on the left side of the pitch, Jones cut the ball to his right as he generated enough space to send a ball into the box. Buksa would leap over the Orlando defense and got his head onto the ball, sending it to the left side of the goal and into the back of the net!
After trailing by two goals, Buksa’s brace propelled the Supporters’ Shield champions to a 2-2 draw over a tough Orlando squad.
With Sunday’s draw, the Revs now hold 70 points on the season and trail LAFC’s record by just two points. The Revs need one win in their final two games to break the record. They’ll look to break the record and earn Bruce Arena his 240th regular-season win in front of the home fans on Wednesday, October 27th, as they host the Colorado Rapids at 7:00 PM ET.