There has been talk of Lionel Messi being courted by Inter Miami CF and speculation of a visit to a game while vacationing with his family. But Inter might consider itself fortunate Messi passed on Wednesday night’s match, as the Revolution took a dominating 5-0 win in the teams’ first meeting.
The Revolution (9-3-3, 30 points) took their most decisive road victory ever and Miami (2-8-2, 8 points) was booed off the field by the DRVPNK Stadium crowd in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Adam Buksa and Arnór Traustason scored twice and Teal Bunbury once as the Revolution, who meet CF Montreal Sunday, increased their road unbeaten streak to three games.
Traustason scored his first MLS goal after Nicolas Figal was cautioned by referee Robert Sibiga, heading in a Carles Gil free kick in the 15th minute. Bunbury converted a rebound of a Tommy McNamara shot in the 27th minute, Lucas Maciel starting the sequence by dispossessing Blaise Matuidi, then finding Gil.
A series of moves featured Gil combining with Bunbury via a Buksa dummy led to McNamara’s drive from the right being parried by Nick Marsman directly to Bunbury, who converted his second goal of the season.
Traustason upped the lead to 3-0 after a Gil-Bunbury breakaway led to a corner kick in the 36th minute. Buksa’s right-foot volley off a Gil cross gave the Revolution a four-goal first half on the road for the first time ever, then Buksa chipped Marsman off a breakaway via a Gustavo Bou feed in the 83d minute.
The Revolution nearly had more goals in the opening half, but Bunbury was ruled offside on a breakaway (11th) and then had a shot saved on a three-on-one counterattack in stoppage time.
“I’m not surprised we walked off with 3 points,” said Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena. “Obviously, the margin of victory is not something that I would have expected.”
Other observations from Wednesday’s game:
▪ The Revolution overtook the Seattle Sounders (8-1-5, 29 points) for the Supporters Shield lead, the first time they have been in first place in the overall standings at this stage of the season. The Sounders visit Austin Thursday. The Revolution’s best record after 15 matches was set in 2005, when they had a 9-1-5 (32 points) mark.
▪ Arena’s focus on developing center back depth has paid off, as the Revolution went with Jon Bell in place of Henry Kessler, called up to the US national team. Bell, making his sixth start, paired with Andrew Farrell in limiting Miami forwards Gonzalo Higuain and Robbie Robinson as the Revolution extended their consecutive shutout minutes streak to 246 over two-plus games.
“I don’t think Inter Miami posed that many threats, nor did Atlanta [1-0 win Saturday],” Arena said. “So that’s encouraging on the part of our backline and our whole team, the way they worked. I think [goalkeeper] Brad Knighton, obviously, is getting a little bit more confidence with each game.”
▪ The Revolution lead the league with 28 goals (1.87 per game), partly because of unselfish play. Indications of the Revolution’s willingness to create chances for teammates included Bou’s assist to Buksa, who tied Bou for the team lead with seven goals, and Traustason giving up an opportunity for a hat trick on a late breakaway, his pass going just past Bou and Buksa.
▪ Both Buksa and Traustason have struggled with finishing, but their value can be measured by how they read the game and other intangibles. On the Revolution’s third goal, Buksa’s challenge prevented Victor Ulloa from clearing, leaving the ball for Traustason, who took a quick touch and finished to the upper right corner. Said Traustason: “We are two guys that understand football, so it’s just a matter of understanding each other.”
▪ Though the rout was on early, Arena said he had not anticipated using the maximum five substitutes. “No, not after the second or third goal,” Arena said. “It’s 2-0 or 3-0, it’s still a ballgame. Obviously, the fourth goal, I think, was huge., and that allowed us to start thinking at halftime that we were going to use all five of our substitutions, and we obviously did.”
▪ Miami is off to a similar start to the 2019 Revolution’s, when Arena replaced Brad Friedel. The Revolution had a 2-8-2 record, but rallied to reach the playoffs under Arena. Against the Revolution, Miami threatened through Higuain and twice hit the crossbar, but seemed vulnerable defensively and directionless in midfield. Miami is 0-6-0 since May 16 and has not won at home this season.
▪ Though Messi appears a long shot to join MLS any time soon, Miami should have little difficulty attracting interest from high-profile performers. Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba joined former NFL star Chad Ochocinco, a Miami native, at Wednesday’s match.