Before I start singing the praises of the New England Revolution and their fourth win in a row at home to start 2021, we’re going to talk about a few gifts from the New York Red Bulls that really helped towards that 3-1 final scoreline. But first...
That is a stunning difference between this year and last, and I know last year was weird and everything and having Carles Gil back and fully fit is great and probably should have been subbed off in the final stages of this one but I digress. The Revs being dominant home team is bad news for the rest of MLS, who already dislike Gillette Stadium either because of the turf, the travel, or well just everything.
The Red Bulls have a long and not great history here and Andres Reyes added another chapter to it with his first goal and red card for the Red Bulls. By scoring the opening goal, New York could have sat back and dictated more of the tempo of the game, they were tremendous in possession early on and even decent enough with just 10-men. But Reyes’ over-aggressiveness got him a very deserved early shower and keeper Carlos Coronel got caught cheating towards the middle of his box for a centering pass that never came, allowing Tajon Buchanan to fire the go-ahead and eventual game winner right before half time.
Were the Revs already back on the front foot before Reyes got sent off? Yes, they were. New England proved again they are a dominant counter attacking team and while some more open play and set-piece goals would be nice if the Revs can finish off one or two (or three) of their big chance counters, generating chances from the build up will be supplemental offense to their outstanding countering play.
1) The Revs are at best an average possession team, and that’s okay.
Only having a 57-43% advantage in possession while playing a full half up a man doesn’t seem all that impressive and it probably isn’t. But aside from a Daniel Royer diving head halfway through the second half that went wide, RBNY didn’t generate a lot of clear cut chances on goal despite their possession and a lot of nervy moments for the Revs in the back. Should the Revs do better with their 2.6 xG (expected goals) to the Red Bulls 1.3? Probably, but this is why you don’t screw up 4-versus-1 opportunities in stoppage time...
Carles Gil is a tremendous talent and elite possession player, but the Revs are best when they are going forward with the ball and putting pressure on teams right away. This leads to a lot of quick turnovers and bad one-time passes in an effort to what the Revs do best - start attacking. Were the first thirty minutes of yesterday game’s frustrating? Yes absolutely, it’s very annoying to commit a million turnovers in your own half and spend most of your time getting the ball back. But that same pressure leads to a lot of turnovers from the other team as well, which turn into killer balls between the lines like Traustason’s ball to Bou for the first goal. Speaking of which...
2) The Iceman cometh with the assists
I’m sure Arnor Traustason wants to score goals, but the Revs have two big time strikers who are doing that pretty well right now. What the Revs need is more of what Traustason did yesterday: being a provider from the opposite wing, and especially so if Gil is deployed as a right winger.
The first assist is sublime, as he cleans up from a Matt Polster tackle (Caden Clark I think wanted a foul there but either the ball was won cleanly or the referee determined Clark went down too easy), and immediately finds Bou all alone to slot home. Tajon Buchanan did most of the heavy lifting on the second goal, by overloading the opposite flank, all Arnor had to do was play a simple ball with the RBNY backline stretched and let Tajon beat his man. But the subtle near post run after the pass, along with Gil and Polster making additional runs on goal, opened up the near post with Coronel leaning away from his goal.
Traustason was already doing a lot of the little things right and now he’s on the scoresheet with a pair of much deserved helpers. With Bou and Buksa finding the net today, it takes the pressure off the Revs creators and support players to find the back of the net to let them focus on setting up the finishers.
3) A quick look ahead...
The Revolution play once more before MLS takes an odd two-week international break for the European Championships and Copa America, something they won’t do a month later in July for the Gold Cup. So that lets the Revs reset and get anyone carrying a knock back to full strength.
Next week the Revs go into Cincinnati against a woeful side that did steal three points against Montreal at the death in Florida yesterday. After the break they’ll play NYCFC at Red Bull Arena because reasons, and they get the Red Bulls again at Gillette in a midweek contest. It would not be wrong to say the Revs should get 7 out of 9 possible points in that stretch before the schedule starts to toughen up.
We’re going to know just how good this Revs team is by mid-summer. And now we conclude with your weekly NSFW highlight of Carles Gil tormenting defenders in the closing minutes:
Yes Gil does that every week. No we will never tire of watching him do that.