After a brief road trip that saw the Revolution drop points against both the Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls, the team looked to right their course as they played host to D.C. United on Sunday night. The Revs, looking to create some separation in the playoff picture and hopefully ensure they wouldn’t need to participate in any “play-in” games before the playoffs. With NYCFC above them, and the Red Bulls below, the hope was for the match between both of the Revolution’s rivals to end in a draw, with what many would argue is an easy win for New England, with D.C. sitting second to last in the Eastern Conference.
Captain Carles Gil found his way back to fitness and subsequently earned the starting nod for this pivotal matchup, while fellow DP Adam Buksa started opposite Teal Bunbury up top, a dangerous attacking trio. With heavy rain battering the turf pitch at Gillette Stadium, the Revs kicked off their final home game of the regular season. Early on, D.C. seemed to be comfortably in control of the match, dominating possession in the early goings and stifling any counter-attacking promise the Revolution were able to muster. An early scare for the club came when Carles Gil came up limping after a challenge, giving many fans flashbacks to the injury that sent him home from the MLS is Back Tournament, before requiring surgery to remove bone spurs in the same foot as his Achilles injury.
Tommy McNamara would generate the first chance of the game, however, pouncing on a long rebound and sending a wonky bumbling shot into the sea of white shirts guarding Bill Hamid’s goalmouth, before the ball deflected off of a Revolution player and out in the 10th minute. The Revs were gifted a golden opportunity to score when McNamara was dragged down just outside of D.C.’s 18-yard-box in the 13th minute, warranting a yellow card for Yamil Asad. Carles Gil swung through the ensuing free-kick, just to have it parried away by Bill Hamid’s outstretched hands. An early injury soon thereafter would force DeJuan Jones off the pitch, with the outside back being replaced by his usual outside accomplice, Brandon Bye.
While Asad’s yellow card impacted his ability on the defensive side of the ball, his offense proved to still be intact as he was left unmarked at the back post. The Peruvian was able to tap home a perfect looping pass from teammate Edison Flores in the 22nd minute, putting the visitors up 1-0 early. Asad would yet again get involved with the offense, when in the 26th minute his long ball off of a set piece would find the feet of Griffin Yow deep into the box. Yow’s shot was accidentally rifled into the top of the net by rookie Henry Kessler, putting D.C. up 2-0 with a whole lot of game left.
Opting not to sit around and wait, the Revolution immediately went on the attack. A Matt Turner clearance saw Adam Buksa heading in on goal with only Russell Canouse to beat, before the Polish striker was dragged down in the box. D.C.’s captain was issued a yellow card, with Carles Gil primed to take the penalty kick. While the former Aston Villa star’s shot rang off the post, the rebound fortunately found the foot of Adam Buksa with a wide-open goal in front of him, slotting it home to cut the deficit in half.
Matt Turner came up gigantic when he denied Edison Flores from close range, fully extending just to get a hand to his cross-goalmouth-shot, and preserve his side’s momentum. Buksa nearly earned his brace when Bill Hamid denied him point-blank with just a few minutes to go before halftime, though the Revs continued to push the envelope. Buksa would be on the end of the ensuing corner kick, but his header was handled calmly by Hamid this time around.
Tommy McNamara yet again created trouble for United, as the former Dynamo player was left wide open in the box, though Bill Hamid yet again dove masterfully to deflect New England’s best shot at a tying goal so far. At the halftime whistle with the Revs down a goal still, Bruce Arena knew there were necessary changes to be made. Gustavo Bou was brought on for Scott Caldwell, marking the first time in regular season play that all 3 designated players were on the pitch at the same time. The connection instantly looked magical, as the Revolution dominated on the ball from the blow of Dave Gantar’s whistle to start the second half.
The emergence of Tajon Buchanan has been a fantastic story to follow in the waning weeks of the 2020 regular season, and yet again, the Syracuse product looked impressive. As he burst through the defensive lines in the 53rd minute, a searing cross deflected off of the foot of Russell Canouse and behind Bill Hamid, putting the game back on level pegging once again. D.C. looked to counter the growing offensive attack the Revs had begun to muster, subbing on a certified goal-scoring threat in Gelmin Rivas, and the youthful energy of Erik Sorga on for Yordy Reyna, the boys in blue would need to stay focused in order to take all 3 points.
Bill Hamid came up huge AGAIN for D.C. (I’m really getting tired of having to say this), stonewalling a pure breakaway opportunity for Gustavo Bou just 15 minutes into the half. The emergence of Tajon Buchanan took center stage yet again, as he was able to play an absolutely perfect cross to the foot of a wide open Teal Bunbury, who calmly slotted home his 7th goal of the season, solidifying his club lead in scoring and putting the Revs on top for the first time all game. Carles Gil’s night would end 70 minutes into the match, as the Spainaird was subbed off for Lee Nguyen. With Gil continuing to progress smoothly in his rehabilitation, the captain looks to be returned to full fitness and heath by the time the playoffs roll around.
While the Revolution looked to hold onto their newfound lead, D.C. continued their assault on New England’s half of the pitch, forcing Matt Turner into positioning adjustment after adjustment. The shifts were working for New England, up until Edison Flores found himself involved in his 3rd goal of the night. Yet again a seeing-eye cross from Flores into the box found the feet of Gelmin Rivas, before turning on a dime and rocketing the game-tying goal past the Revolution netminder. While the players on the pitch argued Tommy McNamara was shoved down by Donovan Pines to remove him from the play, the goal was upheld following a review.
With the game knotted up at 3, and 16 minutes to play, the match was set up perfectly for a phenomenal finish. Gustavo Bou came oh so close to putting the finishing touches on the match after a beautifully weighted through ball sent the Argentinian in on goal, just for his shot to trickle wide. Though his initial chance was for naught, La Pantera would redeem himself shortly thereafter. His cross would meet Adam Buksa, who nearly put home the game-winning goal just to be denied by Hamid at point blank range. However, the ensuing rebound found Teal Bunbury in space, and the longtime Revolution striker put home the match-winning goal with pinpoint accuracy to find the side netting through a sea of three white shirts. Teal’s 8th goal of the season secured a brace, and sent Revolution fans and announcers alike (Looking at you for that intense goal call Brad Feldman) into bedlam. Thanks to some stout defending from Andrew Farrell and Hnery Kessler, the Revolution soon closed out the match to a rousing applause from the ever-present artificial crowd. The win marked the first time since September 28th, 2003, when the team beat the Columbus Crew 3-2, that the Revs had come back from a 2-goal deficit and won in an MLS match.
With a 5-2 Red Bulls loss to NYCFC, the Revs were able to sit much more calmly at 6th in the east, with only Nashville SC in striking distance of the Revs’ spot. While Nashville has a game in hand, their next two opponents, FC Dallas and Orlando City, both will be looking to solidify their own playoff positions and make for a thrilling decision day slate. The Revolution are set to take on the likely supporter’s shield champion Philadelphia Union in Chester on Sunday, November 8th, with a tentative time set for 3:30 PM on NBC Sports Boston.
(Photo: Winslow Townson/USA Today)