After three weeks, the New England Revolution returned to the pitch as they faced NYCFC in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Revs fans sadly went home heartbroken once again.
The starting XI was no shock as New England brought out its strongest lineup. The only surprises were that Scott Caldwell, Christian Mafla, and Edward Kizza failed to make the bench while Justin Rennicks found his way on there.
But let’s not waste any time, here are three thoughts from Tuesday night’s brutal defeat.
1 - The rust was evident
It didn’t take long for the Revs to allow a goal as NYCFC scored within the first five minutes. An all too common theme of New England allowing players to get wide open in the box proved costly as Santiago Rodriguez slotted home a goal in the third minute.
The Revolution have struggled when they have returned from a long break. It’s almost like this should have been expected. Still going down a goal within the first five minutes is never a good thing.
Luckily for New England that NYCFC lead wouldn’t last long.
2 - Adam Buksa continues to make Revs fans jump for joy
Fans were already happy to just see Adam Buksa in the starting XI after he recovered from a leg injury, but it didn't take long for him to find the back of the net.
Buksa found the back of the net in the ninth minute and New England had its equalizer. It was another great display of the Polish striker’s aerial prowess. It was his 17th of the season.
Especially after getting hurt, Buksa looked fantastic on the pitch. His movement was great and so was his hold-up play. He showed exactly why New England went out and acquired him.
3 - Bruce is to blame
If one person deserves blame for the Revs loss, all eyes should be on Bruce Arena.
The fact that the Revs won the Supporters’ Shield is a testament to how great of a coach he is. It’s impossible to credit him for all that he has done.
But Arena made some questionable decisions, particularly not making a sub in the first 90 minutes of the match. There were times when NYCFC dominated the game and New England was desperately in need of an injection of life but Arena thought otherwise.
Hindsight is 20/20, but the Revolution should have gone for the win in the first 90 minutes. Once you get to extra time and penalties, anything can happen (as we saw).
While Arena deserves a lot of the credit for New England’s success this season, that means he shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. Now fans will be left wondering what could have been if the Revs made a sub in the 60th or 70th minute.
So just like that the season is over and Revs fans once again wonder what it will take for the club to one day win an MLS Cup.