FOXBOROUGH — A duel between the MLS’ top scoring teams figured to produce fireworks and spectacular finishing, as well some exemplary technical midfield play. The Revolution’s 2-1 win over New York City FC showed off some of the league’s best qualities, both teams emphasizing attacking play before a crowd of 19,481 at Gillette Stadium Saturday night.
The Revolution (17-4-4, 55 points) capitalized on a second-half numerical advantage, Tajon Buchanan converting the deciding goal in the 65th minute. NYC FC (10-8-4, 34 points) controlled possession during the first half, but things changed as Carles Gil, Adam Buksa, and Buchanan entered in the second half.
Santiago Rodriguez opened the scoring, volleying a scoop from Valentin Castellanos past Matt Turner in the 11th minute, finishing a counterattack after a Revolution corner kick. Rodriguez appeared to sustain a leg injury and was replaced by Andres Jasson five minutes later.
Emmanuel Boateng equalized (21st minute), one-timing a low shot from just inside the penalty area off an Edward Kizza layoff, his second goal of the season. Teal Bunbury set up the score, controlling a long ball from Andrew Farrell on the right wing, getting past Maxime Chanot for a low cross.
NYC FC took control of the midfield and nearly broke the deadlock, a shot cleared off the line by Henry Kessler (37th). A Revolution counter produced a Tommy McNamara attempt off the left post off a Brandon Bye cross (39th).
Gil immediately helped change the dynamic after halftime. Within seconds of the second-half kickoff, Gil went 1-on-2 with Jasson and Keaton Parks, who was cautioned after Gil put the ball through Jasson’s legs. Gil combined with McNamara, leading to a second caution and red card for defender Alfredo Morales (54th).
The Revolution, who play host to the Columbus Crew next Saturday, added Buchanan and Buksa in the 61st minute and, four minutes later, Buchanan broke the deadlock. Gil took another long pass from Farrell, faked James Sands, then found Buchanan for a one-timer from the top of the penalty area, his seventh goal of the season. The Revolution nearly added to the advantage, a Buchanan tap cleared off the line (89th), Buksa shooting wide on a breakaway in stoppage time.
“We haven’t achieved any of our goals for the year, yet,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “We wanted to qualify for the playoffs and we haven’t done that, yet. Until some mathemetician tells me we’ve qualified, we’re not there, yet. And we want home-field advantage so we’re headed in that direction, hopefully we can do that.”
Observations from Saturday’s game:
⋅ With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Revolution have equaled the team record for victories, set in 2005 and ‘14, also improving to 10-1-1 at home with a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) at Gillette since 7/7/21). The goal of the Revolution is to capture the Supporters’ Shield, which would guarantee home-field advantage through the MLS Cup, scheduled Dec. 11. The Revolution (2.20 points per game) lead the Seattle Sounders ( 1.96 per game) in the overall standings.
⋅ The Revolution figure to lose Buchanan, Buksa, and Turner for World Cup qualifiers in October and November. “The month of September we have to get through in a good way because there are a lot of difficult games,” Arena said. “There’s still a lot ahead of us here. Then we hit the international break, which becomes a complete disaster in our league. That’s going to be difficult as well it’s nice to have a little bit of a cushion now. I’d hate to be scrambling and try to get into one of the top seven spots and have to deal with all these other issues.”
⋅ NYC FC and the Revolution might have the best midfield aggregations in the Eastern Conference, and the duels in the center of the field led to some tactical fouls, as well as hard tackles. Referee Chris Penso issued four cautions to each team, including one for time wasting to Gil, who sent a shot over the goal after a 90th-minute whistle. Gil, who has committed one foul in 19 games this season, had not received a yellow card since 2019. Matt Polster provided midfield support, plus a halftime motivational talk to the Revolution.
“Some of the words can’t be said, but it was more of I really wanted to win the game,” Polster said. “I want those guys to really want to win the game. They do. This team keeps showing that every game is a must – 3 points, even if we have the lead that we do. It’s a standard that we’ve shown that we want to uphold every single time. It was just a lot of emotion of they took 3 points last time [NYC took a 2-0 win over the Revolution two weeks ago], and we wanted to take 3 points this time.”
⋅ NYC FC missed starters Jesus Medina and Maxi Moralez (both suspended), then lost Rodriguez to injury. The Revolution, playing without leading scorer Gustavo Bou (undisclosed injury) and Arnor Traustason (suspended), displayed better depth than NYC FC, which has seven games scheduled this month.
⋅ Gil, who delivered a league-leading 16th assist, appears recovered from a sports hernia injury that caused him to miss five games. “In terms of minutes for Carles, we’ve just got to see how he recovers from this, how he does in training next week,” Arena said. “I thought he was tired. Basically, we doubled his minutes [Gil played 23 minutes in a 1-0 win at Philadelphia last week], we’ve got to keep pushing him and get him going. We’ll get Gustavo back, and some others. Hopefully, as we close out the regular season we’ll get our team healthy.”
⋅ Buchanan, who was scythed down thrice in the first 18 minutes he was on the field, did not convert his first professional goal until Sept. 12. This year, Buchanan has scored seven goals in 18 games, plus four for Canada.
⋅ Kessler, who grew up on New York’s Lower East Side, on competing on the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the International Trade Center: “Really emotional. It’s a really sad day. Tragedy struck 20 years ago, and it’s tough. When you’re playing, you try to just focus on that but much of today was just spent mourning really, and that’s difficult.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.