At one second, Bruce Arena looked like a genius but by the end of the match, that all changed.
New England drew 2-2 with the Columbus Crew on Saturday. While the draw was disappointing, it was the first time that the Revolution recorded back-to-back points since the first two games of the season.
The Revs were down 1-0 when Arena made a bold move. He subbed in Jozy Altidore and Ema Boateng in exchange for Andrew Farrell and Damian Rivera.
With Farrell having picked up a yellow card, New England transitioned to a three-man back line of Henry Kessler, Matt Polster, and Brandon Bye.
“Well, we added a striker, went with three in the back, went with two guys out wide that we thought could get some balls in front of the goal, and gambled a little bit playing [Matt] Polster in the middle there,” Arena said when asked about the move by Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe.
The move paid off as minutes later, Boateng and DeJuan Jones combined to level the score. With the three-man back line, Jones played in a more advanced role on the right side of the field while Bye played more defensively on the same side.
A little more than 10 minutes later, Sebastian Lletget sent a beautiful ball to Adam Buksa who was able to head it home for his fourth consecutive goal. New England had a 2-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the match.
After scoring, New England returned to a more defensive shape. Jones returned to left back and Omar Gonzalez replaced Lletget as the Revs returned to a four-man back line.
That move ended up backfiring as Erik Hurtado tied the game in the 89th minute. Derrick Etienne sent a cross into the box and Hurtado waltzed his way past Gonzalez and sent the ball into the net.
“You’re at the end of the game, you have a goal lead, you went from three to a back four,” Arena said when asked about the Gonzalez substitution. “Common sense, it’s safety, and it shouldn’t backfire the way it did. So, that’s the reason for that.”
With the draw, New England currently sits at 11th in the Eastern Conference. After a U.S. Open match against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Revs return to league play on May 15 when they face Atlanta United down in Georgia.