Last night, the New York Red Bulls visited Gillette Stadium for the second time this season in a midweek matchup of one of the league’s storied rivalries. While the Revs came into the match on a run of five straight unbeaten matches (with wins in their last four straight), their recent match against NYCFC tested them. The 3-2 win, capped off with an emphatic game-winning goal by Tommy McNamara and some superhuman acrobatics from Matt Turner, certainly caused trouble with the week ahead that sees the Revs play 3 matches in total across 8 days.
Bruce Arena opted for 4 changes ahead of this match, bringing in Henry Kessler to replace Jon Bell on the backline, Teal Bunbury and Tajon Buchanan were slotted into the midfield as well, replacing Arnor Traustason and Maciel, and moving McNamara from his spot on the wing to his standard role as a defensive midfielder. The team, along with the remainder of the league, also took the opportunity to celebrate Pride Night at the stadium, in honor of June being Pride Month.
Early on in the contest however, it seemed like the Red Bulls would be scoring the opener. Despite a near miss from Gustavo Bou in close, New York was able to pin the Revs in their own half fairly handily with Frankie Amaya forcing a reaction save from Matt Turner only a few minutes in. Turner was called upon again on the ensuing corner, cleaning up a header at his feet and removing the danger.
In what would become a trend, Head Official Robert Sibiga let A LOT slide on both sides of the ball all game, starting with a seemingly clear shove on Tajon Buchanan by New York’s John Tolkin. The loss of possession at the Revs’ 18-yard-box sprang a quick attack lead by Dru Yearwood, who subsequently rang a curling strike off of the crossbar at the far post, before Teal Bunbury was able to clear the danger.
While the Revs did seem contained to their own half, a few breakouts quickly changed the flow of the match, with DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye both pushing further up their respective wings and wreaking havoc on the Red Bulls’ outside backs. Having a speed demon the likes of Tajon Buchanan running along the sidelines also isn’t too shabby either, especially when he’s being spoon-fed masterful passses from Carles Gil. A break in the 26th minute found Tajon running through space in the box, before Carles lofted a picture-perfect through ball over the top of the line and onto Tajon’s waiting foot, before bagging his 2nd goal of the season, and garnering Carles his 8th assist of the year.
In the wake of the Revs’ opening goal, the momentum had completely shifted, with the Revolution now on the attack, forcing the Red Bulls onto their back feet constantly. After some sensational interplay, DeJuan Jones found a lane down the left wing after colliding with a defender, received a feed from Gil yet again, before cutting and firing home the team’s second goal of the match in the 32nd minute. The Revs came oh so close to scoring a third just before half time, when Gil opted to link up with Teal Bunbury this time, sending him in alone with just Carlos Coronel to beat. The New York keeper was able to react swiftly though, denying the 11-year MLS vet his second goal of the year.
Coming back onto the field after half-time, the job was simple for Bruce Arena’s men, just hold the lead. In a precautionary measure, Matt Polster, who had received a yellow card in the first half, was subbed off for Maciel at the beginning of the 2nd 45’.
With the Red Bulls looking to recover from the abuse they suffered in the first half, Gerhard Struber’s men forced their way up the pitch, controlling the ball early on and earning a corner only 5 minutes into the second. Their advances quickly backfired, however, when the ensuing kick bounced out to Carles Gil, who for a third time on the night set up a goal with an assist. The captain found Gustavo Bou with a looping 30-yard pass, springing La Pantera in on an uncontested 50-yard run, before the Argentinian forward chipped his shot just over the outstretched hands of the Red Bull keeper and into the back of the net, extending the Revolution’s lead to 3.
The celebration would be short-lived, however, as on the very next scoring opportunity, the Red Bulls would find the back of the net. Patryk Klimala crept his way into the box behind Henry Kessler and was able slot home the visiting team’s first goal of the match, cutting the lead down to a two-goal advantage, and garnering a bit of the momentum. The Red Bulls seemed to be returning to the form they had in the first half, peppering Matt Turner with shots, including a long range effort in the 74th minute, forcing a diving save from the Revs keeper.
As had seemed to be an issue all night for both sides, the ensuing corner kick wreaked havoc in the box, bouncing around the area until New York’s Andres Reyes powered home a low driven shot into the back of the goal, cutting the deficit to one with just about 15 minutes left to play. In a lovely bit of fortune for Reyes, he’s now scored twice in two appearances at Gillette Stadium in his career, and certainly ended this game off much more favorably than the last, when he was issued a red card early on after scoring the opener, back in May.
Though the Red Bulls would continue their press, the Revs remained stout in their defense and halted each and every advance their opponents would make. After 4 minutes of stoppage time and no-nonsense-defending, the final whistle blew, earning the Revolution their 5th consecutive win, preserving a perfect record at home, and tightening their stranglehold on first place in the Eastern Conference.
- -Carles Gil’s case for MLS MVP is certainly being made already, and it’s got some damn good evidence to support it. Through the first ten matches of this season, Carles has a goal and 10 assists, doubling his total assist tally from last season, and setting himself only 4 behind breaking his own record which he set in his 2019 debut season. In addition, Carles has 26 total regular-season assists in only 50 games as a Revs player, which places him in some pretty stellar company already, only being 3 and 4 assists away from tying Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan respectively. Besides his statistics, his on the field impact can’t be measured with any sort of instrument. His vision is second to none, and when Gil is on and over the ball it’s borderline impossible to force him into losing possession, as he seems to always have an outlet.
- -Gustavo Bou followed up his phenomenal volley last week against NYCFC with an equally appealing run and chip, a sign that certainly bodes well for a player who, early on this season, just couldn’t seem to find his form. With goals in his last three matches now, and a maestro like Gil operating behind La Pantera, more goals are sure to come as the weather heats up in New England this summer.
- -All four of the wing players who started last night put forth incredible efforts, with Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones bagging goals, Teal Bunbury nearly scoring himself alongside great supporting play throughout, and Brandon Bye absolutely pocketing Sean Davis and Dru Yearwood as the game carried on. As I mentioned earlier, the wing-backs pushing up the field further after the opening 20 minutes felt like a game-changer for me, and both DeJuan and Brandon are directly responsible for that impact.
- -Matt Turner may not have been tested as feverishly as he was during last week’s match, but that’s not to say he didn’t face much trouble. With the exception of one clearance that fell short and almost lead to a direct counter for the red bulls, Turner played a perfect match, as both goals were practically unsaveable by no fault of his own.
- -“If both of those goals were unsaveable, what’s the issue then?”. While Andrew Farrell has been a stalwart in the Revolution defense since he was drafted in 2013, and he certainly isn’t an immediate issue, it’s clear that the D could definitely use a bit of speed. The injection of Jon Bell for the previous few matches did just that, though the size of Henry Kessler was definitely missed. Ultimately, having Kessler in the game I feel was the right choice, as he was able to win countless aerial battles in the Revolution half, ones that I’m not sure Bell would have been able to over the likes of 6’4” Fabio, who consistently was in Kessler’s area. Kessler’s lack of speed compared to Bell also came into play on the first goal for the Red Bulls, with the sophomore defender falling asleep and losing track of the Polish striker Klimala.
- -Matt Polster probably won’t make the all-star team, but based on how he’s played this season he absolutely deserves it. While the stats don’t tell the full story, Polster has revitalized the role once held by Scott Caldwell back in 2014 and 15, dominating and controlling that middle portion of the field, making both his forward and his defenders lives easier. The substitution at halftime for Polster only further shows how valuable he is to this squad, as he continues to make his 100k player’s rights fee from the Chicago Fire look more and more like an absolute bargain for Bruce Arena and his staff.
The Revolution will play their final match of this 3-game-8-day stretch at 9 PM on Sunday June 27th, at Toyota Stadium as they take on FC Dallas.
(Photo: Yahoo Sports)
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