Saturday’s Eastern Conference showdown between the New England Revolution and Orlando City SC was decided by unlikely goal scorers as Matt Polster, Wilfrid Kaptoum, and Henry Kessler found the back of the net.
The goals were exactly what you’d want to see from a team who is looking to earn a spot in the playoffs. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
1. Matt Polster makes a late run to score his second of the season
I like that this goal starts with an assertive win by Kessler, who was sensational throughout the night. Kessler looks healthy after struggling with hamstring issues at the beginning of the season. It’s good to see the first-choice backline regaining their chemistry and confidence.
This was also a good goal because it featured a lot of midfield movement. Tommy McNamara collected the ball off Kessler’s win before moving it to Carles Gil. The reigning MLS MVP plays Kaptoum, who finds McNamara in a new spot. Polster makes the late run to score the goal. The movement is perfect and the passing is crisp. More of this, please.
2. McNamara is instrumental in the buildup to Kaptoum’s finish
The first goal was created in transition, which I’m all about. The second goal featured some nice buildup that started deep.
The movement here is also impressive. Note that McNamara starts on the left side before ending up on the right. The midfielder—who often receives criticism—is constantly making himself available. He’s even there after the initial cross is blocked as he controls the ball before assisting Kaptoum.
Beyond the movement from McNamara, Kaptoum, Gil, and Brandon Bye, I like that the Revs were able to successfully build from their own defensive half.
3. Kessler scores on a set piece
Gil is so good on set pieces, but he needs a target. Adam Buksa used to be that player as his creative runs and tall frame made him a menace in the box. The hope is that Giacomo Vrioni can do the same. For now, I’m encouraged that Kessler scored a goal, especially since it’s something he’s been working on.
After the game, he told media, “I’ve been working really hard on attacking headers. That’s something that I’ve tried to improve upon, and I think I can make myself even better in that regard, so to see that all that practice, all that hard work showed during the game was really satisfying.”
Set pieces are such an important part of soccer, especially during cagey games. With Gil and Dylan Borrero regularly being fouled, the Revs need to be confident in dead-ball situations.
I also like that Kessler’s tally was widely celebrated by the team. It’s been a tough season, so sticking together is essential.
After the game, head coach Bruce Arena said, “We can’t expect getting a goal every game out of Gustavo [Bou]. Others have to chip in.”
In MLS, game-changers like Bou and Borrero are so important. Bou can change everything with a creative run or stinging shot. Borrero can unlock a defense with his direct play.
That said, other players need to be dangerous as well. On Saturday, we saw some encouraging goals as the Revs prepare for the final stretch of the season. More plays like this will increase the odds of the Revolution making the post-season.