While the Patriots weren’t playing this week, the Revolution were busy securing six crucial points across two road matches in less than seven days. Fresh off of their recent victory over NYCFC at Yankee Stadium Saturday, the Revs travelled to Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night, the temporary home of the Montreal Impact. With travel between the United States and Canada temporarily suspended, the team has shared the venue with fellow Eastern Conference opponent and New England Revolution rival, the New York (Jersey) Red Bulls. On both sides of the ball, new faces aplenty could be spotted in their respective Starting XI’s. For the Revolution, the debut of Kekuta Manneh, Michael Mancienne’s return to the backline, and Antonio Delamea all found their ways into the starting unit. Both Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe also entered the starting lineup, under the guide of Bruce Arena. For Montreal, goalkeeper James Pantemis was making his first professional start, while Maxi Urruti and Ballou Tabla sat on the bench to begin the match for Thierry Henry’s side.
Early on, the New England attack was in full swing, with the ball rarely leaving the Impact’s half of the field, as Kelyn Rowe and Matt Polster’s high midfield press stifled any counter-attacking chances Mason Toye or Romell Quioto could muster. With fresh legs, Kekuta Manneh would create the first real chance of the match when his strike from distance was parried away by Pantemis in the 8th minute. 3 minutes later, with the high press still pushing the envelope, Matt Polster literally threw his entire body at Rudy Camacho as he misplayed a pass, springing an instant break for Adam Buksa. Bearing down on Pantemis, the Polish striker calmly slotted a perfect pass across the goalmouth to Manneh, who comfortably put home his first goal in a Revolution uniform.
Manneh found himself caught up in the attacking buildup yet again less than ten minutes later when Diego Fagundez wandered into space and received a perfect through ball from the Gambian international. While Diego’s shot was batted away by Pantemis, the Revolution continued to bear down on the Montreal goalie. The ensuing corner kick looked to be where the Revolution doubled their lead, though early indications from the referee had suggested that Teal Bunbury headed Alex Büttner’s cross from an offsides position. After some debate, head referee Joseph Dickerson motioned for a VAR review. With a second look, it was clear that Teal was more than onsides, and the goal was given with no hesitation, a 2-0 lead to the Revs in only about 20 minutes of in-game action.
Diego Fagundez looked to extend the lead to three in the 23rd minute but had his finesse shot slip just by the far post beyond Pantemis’ reach as the Revolution continued to trap the Impact in their own half of the pitch. A quick break shortly after however found Romell Quioto streaking past Toni Delamea before his quick pass was slotted home just as calmly as Manneh had by Montreal’s Amar Sejdic, cutting the Revs lead in half with just over 15 minutes to play in the first half. Quioto continued to cause trouble for the right side of the Revolution’s defensive pairing as he was able to put a thundering strike on goal in the 30th minute that Matt Turner was luckily able to redirect out of harm’s way.
While Montreal continued to push forward, New England began to capitalize on the mistakes the Impact would make in their build-up, and nearly capitalized when Adam Buksa found his way in alone before having his strike sent over the bar by Pantemis in the 33rd minute. James Pantemis continued to impress as the half carried on, coming out to deny Kekuta Manneh’s breakaway chance for a brace only a minute later.
Heading into halftime, manager Bruce Arena was obviously displeased with the lack of focus on Montreal’s goal but applauded Kekuta Manneh’s energy early on in this newfound role. With the Revolution only up a goal now, adding insurance to that lead was of paramount importance to the guys dressed in white on the pitch. Only about 6 minutes into the second half, the Revolution were able to finally strike again.
If any of you reading have been following the Revs as of late, it’s no secret that Adam Buksa has had some of the worst luck in recent weeks on the pitch, going so far as to lose his starting spot. However, Buksa was finally able to redeem himself in this moment. As he found his way dribbling into the box, a nifty cut gave the striker an angle to shoot, as Pantemis impressively denied his initial chance. A quick rebound found it’s way back to Buksa’s chest and he was able to send the third goal of the match into the back of the twine around a mess of defenders. The goal clearly energized a disgruntled Buksa as he embraced teammate Diego Fagundez, adding to the assist he had already bagged with the first goal of the game.
The Revolution defense, bolstered by Matt Turner playing a phenomenal 90 minutes yet again, continued to deny the Impact time and time again as the entered the opposing third, including a powerful save off of yet another Romell Quioto bullet in the 62nd minute to preserve the New England lead. Coming into the 90th minute, the Revs were looking to head out of New Jersey with ease, but Maxi Urruti, Romell Quioto, and Ballou Tabla seemed to have other plans. Maxi Urruti’s cross connected with Quioto at the back post, before his dribbling and composed passing, found the foot of former Barca man Tabla who sent his shot directly into the top of the goal, closing the gap to one goal with only 4 minutes remaining in stoppage time.
Stout defense from substitutes Tommy McNamara, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye helped lock down the match for the remainder of the 90 minutes, helping the team secure a clutch road victory in this short road trip. The result helped the Revolution hold their spot at 5th place in the Eastern Conference, on track to make the playoffs and avoid the play-off round for the first time since 2014, as they sit at 28 points, just one above 6th place NYCFC and 9 above final play-off spot holders, Atlanta United.
Buksa’s performance (1 Goal, 1 Assist, 90 Minutes) was a great “feel-good” moment for both him and fans alike, so it’s no surprise he’s my man of the match in this contest. Matt Turner’s ever-consistent top tier goalkeeping is key to the team’s success nowadays, but having a striker who can finally score again is an absolutely beautiful sight to behold. The Revolution will look to stick to their winning ways when they welcome the 2nd place Philadelphia Union to Gillette Stadium next Monday in what’s sure to be a fantastic matchup with Gustavo Bou, Lee Nguyen, and multiple other starters fully rested for the battle. The Union, fresh off of finalizing an agreement to send Wonderkid Brenden Aaronson to Red Bull Salzburg upon the completion of this MLS season, will look to only add value to his eventual transfer in their own quest to win their very first MLS Cup this year.
Most likely not as soon as next week, but the Revolution themselves will be hoping to have their own maestro return to the pitch at some point this season, with Carles Gil fully recovered from ankle surgery and arriving to practice sessions for the first time since the Orlando bubble kicked off earlier this Summer. The match between the Union and Revolution kicks off at 7:30 PM Monday and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Boston as well as on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Photo: (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today)