The Revolution could not have started much slower in their first game after a three-week break, but they rallied for a 3-2 win over New York City FC Saturday night. Tommy McNamara converted the deciding goal in the 88th minute, though the Revolution (6-1-2, 20 points) needed Matt Turner to make a penalty kick save and several spectacular stops in stoppage time to extend their unbeaten streak to five games.
The Eastern Conference-leading Revolution nearly fell behind early at Red Bull Arena, NYC FC’s home for eight games this season. But Turner dove right to stop Valentin Castellanos’s low penalty kick attempt in the 10th minute. Jesus Medina earned the penalty, going down in a collision with Andrew Farrell, the play set up as Castellanos dummied a long ball from Sean Johnson. The Revolution remained on the defensive for most of the opening half, Turner making a spectacular point-blank stop Castellanos in the 21st minute.
The Revolution opened the scoring as Gustavo Bou volleyed an attempted clearance from the penalty arc, the shot slightly deflected by Alfredo Morales on the way past Johnson. DeJuan Jones started the scoring sequence, lofting a cross toward Arnor Traustason on the edge of the goal area. Bou anticipated Maxime Chanot’s headed clearance, one-timing a shot with Morales and Keaton Parks closing for his third goal of the season and 17th since joining the Revolution in 2019.
NYC FC substitute Thiago Andrade equalized off a Moralez feed, finishing off the inside of the right post in the 55th minute.
Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena then added Tajon Buchanan and Adam Buksa as substitutes, and the moves paid off with chances as Buchanan headed wide from Bou (69th) and had a shot blocked off a corner kick (74th). NYC FC defender James Sands was cautioned for a foul on Buksa, and Carles Gil lofted the free kick for Jon Bell to head in from the edge of the goal area in the 78th minute, Buksa drawing the defense with a near post run.
Buksa nearly gave the Revolution a two-goal edge, but his point-blank shot was stopped by Johnson (83d). NYC FC immediately attacked, Thiago earning a corner and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi finishing off a Parks head-on (85th).
The Revolution capitalized on a Medina turnover, Bye finding Gil, who threaded a pass to Buchanan on the left side of the penalty area. McNamara then converted Buchanan’s low cross in the 88th minute.
The Revolution, off to their best start to a season since 2005, play host to the Red Bulls Wednesday.
“Not the kind of game I would’ve predicted that we’d go on the road and get three goals against New York City, but a heck of an effort,” Arena said. “I thought our second half was pretty good given the circumstances. I think the contributions from the guys coming off the bench were real good. Again, we’ve got a lot of areas we’ve got to get better at, but I think we’re certainly pleased with this win.”
Other observations on Saturday’s game:
▪ Turner has saved four of 10 penalty kicks, including a stop on former Manchester United star Nani in a 3-1 win over Orlando City SC in the playoffs last year. In added time, he made a double save on Tajouri-Shradi and Medina, then a one-handed parry on a Moralez half volley. “He just made ridiculous saves,” Bell said. “I mean, he does it in practice, and games you just sit there and, like, man, that’s crazy.”
▪ Arena remains reluctant to include all three Revolution Designated Players in the starting lineup, partly because of the similar styles of Bou and Buksa, both considered “No. 9s.” The Bou-Buksa-Gil triumvirate has been effective in short stretches, as they were in a 21-minute stint against NYC FC. The three DPs have been together on the field for a total of only 81 minutes in the last five games, producing five goals. The last time all three were in the starting lineup, the Revolution lost, 2-0, at Nashville.
▪ The Revolution could have been expected to seem rusty compared to their last game, a 1-0 win over FC Cincinnati May 29. But the combination of individual brilliance and unheralded support play from McNamara and Matt Polster, plus shut-down defending from left back DeJuan Jones, kept the Revolution in position to win. Non-statistical contributions included Buksa’s runs to draw defenders on the final two goals and Buchanan’s advances on the left wing, the first time he has played that position since the season opener.
Gil struggled to get free from the defending of Morales until late in the game. But Gil was credited with two assists in the final 12 minutes, setting up Bell’s goal and playing Buchanan in on the deciding score. The Gil-Buchanan combination began clicking late last season and appears lethal, at times. Before Saturday, Buchanan had earned 27 free kicks, Gil 24.
▪ McNamara displayed a muted celebration after scoring — he played for NYC FC for four years. McNamara’s move into the attack to convert symbolizes Arena’s emphasis on offense; as a holding midfielder, he could have been expected to stay back to protect the deadlock late in the match. “We wanted to win the game,” McNamara said. “We didn’t want to give up a goal and lose the game when it was 2-2, but at the same time we wanted to win the game. We’ve been talking a lot about making sure we get in behind the defense and when we do that we need to have runners attacking the penalty area, attacking the goal. As I saw the play developing, I knew that I was the guy responsible for attacking the goal area. I did, the ball came to me, Tajon played a great ball and I just had to it in the net.”
▪ Only once have the Revolution started better than this season, going 6-0-3 in their first nine games in 2005. The Revolution tied Sporting Kansas City, 1-1, in their 10th game and remained unbeaten through 11 games (7-0-4) in 2005. This is the Revolution’s longest run in first place since ’05; they hold a 5-point lead over Orlando City SC and a 6-point edge on the Philadelphia Union, which visits Atlanta United Sunday.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.