The New England Revolution (4W-1L-2D) didn’t start particularly well on Saturday night, but Bruce Arena’s men rebounded from an early deficit and flew to a convincing 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. With the win, the Revolution maintain their grip on first place in the East, two points ahead of second-place Orlando City SC (3-0-3).
In the opening half-hour of Saturday night’s fixture, the Revolution weren’t particularly impressive––in fact, they were quite poor. A 7th-minute goal from Red Bulls defender Andrés Reyes capped an impressive opening blitz from the Red Bulls, generating momentum that would fuel the Red Bulls for the first thirty minutes.
Poor decision-making and shaky passing worsened Arena’s headache on the sidelines.
The Red Bulls’ game plan––playing narrow and pressing aggressively––prohibited the Revolution from creating many chances in the opening stages of Saturday’s match, exacerbated by poor crossing from the Revolution when they did find themselves in wide areas.
But Arena’s men were able to find their break in the 36th minute, with Bou slotting a breakaway chance into the right corner following a teasing ball by Arnor Traustason. It was the Icelandic midfielder’s first assist of the season and Bou’s second goal of the 2021 campaign.
The tide continued to shift after Bou’s goal. After Reyes recklessly challenged Carles Gil minutes after he shouldered Matt Polster off the field and into the sideboards, the referee handed the Columbian his second yellow card, allowing the Revolution even more space going forward.
Look at the dent #NERevs pic.twitter.com/Z319Uk6PJm— Seth (@SethMan31) May 23, 2021
Tajon Buchanan capitalized on the short-handed Red Bulls within minutes of Reyes’ red card, with the Canadian beating a defender inside the box and launching a shot past Carlos Coronel near the endline. Traustason earned his second assist of the night on Buchanan’s finish.
In the second half, the Revolution continued to pile chances on the Red Bulls. Gil’s deft link-up play engineered the lion’s share of the team’s attacks, supplemented by strong attacking play by Gustavo Bou and substitute Adam Buksa. Arnor Traustason continued to find himself in dangerous areas, though his limited left foot weakened his attacking punch.
In the 82nd minute, Buksa put the cherry on the sundae after Buo cushioned an appetizing cross in front of the goal for an easy tap-in. The goal was a fitting end to the match for the Revolution, whose attack is continuing to grow under Bruce Arena.
Can't hold down!#NERevs pic.twitter.com/CvAXUybzM9— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) May 23, 2021
Buksa’s goal marked the second consecutive game he’s scored off the bench for the Revolution, sharpening his appeal for a starting role. With Kizza also flashing attacking ability when he’s appeared off the bench this campaign, the depth of the attacking core for the Revolution is certainly strengthening.
Gil did receive two knocks in the final stages of the game, forcing the Spanish midfielder to walk with a perceptible hiccup in his step particularly after the second instance. But Arena kept Gil in, hopefully a good indication that the knock is only short-term.
If Saturday night’s win showed anything, it's that Bruce Arena is continuing to put his stamp on the Revolution. Perhaps the greatest coach in MLS history, Arena is transforming the Revolution into must-watch TV and one of the most dangerous sides in the East.
While the Revolution started slow, their prompt rebound is indicative of the growing confidence on the side.
The battle between two MLS originals lived up to its billing on Saturday night––and a rematch is scheduled for June 23.
The New England Revolution return to action next Saturday, with Arena’s men taking on FC Cincinnati (1-3-1) in the Queen City.