FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution are showing an extraordinary ability to win games, and also hold their supporters’ attention to the final whistle.
They continued a record-setting pace with a 2-1 win over Orlando City in another match that went to the wire before a season-high crowd of 23,506 Saturday night.
The Revolution (19-4-5, 62 points) earned their 16th one-goal victory, staying on pace to set league records for wins (22) and points (72) with six matches remaining.
After scoring on an Adam Buksa conversion and an own goal in the first half, the Revolution protected the advantage as Matt Turner saved a second-half Nani penalty kick.
Orlando City (10-8-8, 38 points) lost its fourth successive game, the match concluding with the Lions making a desperate attempt to tie, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese moving forward on a corner kick, Joao Moutinho missing on an attempted bicycle kick, and defender Ruan and the Revolution’s Arnor Traustason going down in the penalty area.
The Revolution improved their home unbeaten streak to eight games and are 11-1-2 at Gillette Stadium, one win short of a team mark. The Revolution will take a five-game unbeaten streak into a visit to Montreal on Wednesday.
Buksa opened the scoring in the ninth minute, converting his 12th goal of the season, tied with Gustavo Bou for the team lead. Buksa finished right-footed at the back post off a Bou cross from the left wing. Bou dummied a Tommy McNamara through ball, running past Rodrigo Schlegel before lining up a left-foot cross.
Daryl Dike equalized with a close-range blast off Turner in the 18th minute. Dike took possession, back to goal, turned against former University of Virginia teammate Henry Kessler, then sent a low shot that deflected into the net.
The Revolution broke the deadlock on an own goal off a Tajon Buchanan cross in the 35th minute. Buchanan danced past Moutinho from the right wing into the penalty area, his low cross redirected in by Schlegel, who went down in a clash with Buksa. The score was initially credited to Buksa, who had maneuvered Schlegel into the goal area in front of Gallese. The first half ended with Andrew Farrell running past Benji Michel into the penalty area, referee Rosendo Mendoza blowing the play dead 2 minutes, 12 seconds into stoppage time.
In the second half, the Revolution either short-circuited or had advances halted by the defending of Jhegson Mendez and Junior Urso on Gil.
Nani had a chance to tie the score but with a penalty kick, but sent the shot straight up the middle, Turner holding his ground and deflecting the shot off his left leg in the 73d minute.
“We won 19 games. Why are we worrying about if we’re winning by one goal or not?” Revolution coach Bruce Arena said. “Everything is fine. Don’t worry about your analytics in the sport of soccer. This isn’t baseball. We controlled that game. We created some really dangerous situations. I thought tonight was actually a pretty good performance going forward.”
Observations from Saturday’s game:
▪ The Revolution’s only victories by more than a goal have been by 3-1 over the New York Red Bulls May 22; 5-0 against Inter Miami July 21; and 4-1 over FC Cincinnati Aug. 21.
“You don’t win 19 games by accident,” Turner said. “I would love some breathing room. Would that be fun for the fans, I’m not really sure. We just like to keep it exciting.
“I don’t think that’s an accident, either. We’ve been able to make enough plays to keep games one-goal wins, where maybe in the past those would turn into draws or maybe even losses.”
▪ In the playoffs last season, Buchanan and Buksa combined to set up the deciding goal, scored by Bou, in a 3-1 Revolution win over Orlando City. After Dike earned a penalty kick, Turner dove right to save Nani’s potential equalizing attempt in the 74th minute.
“He’s been changing his run-up the last few penalties,” said Turner, who has saved four of the last 10 penalty kicks he has faced in league games. “I know he’s trying to wait and wait and wait until the ‘keeper makes his move. Fortunately, I did bite a little bit early but I was able to hold up my momentum enough to cover the middle and he hit it low enough where I was able to make a save on it.”
▪ Buchanan lined up at right back in the playoff game, outdueling Nani. This time, Buchanan returned to the wing, and Nani entered as a 57th-minute substitute.
“Just trying to do what I can to be a difference-maker,” Buchanan said. “Obviously, I feel more comfortable on the wing, I kind of have the freedom to kind of find the game.”
The result ensured the Revolution of no worse than a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, a week after clinching a postseason berth. This means the Revolution would host at least one playoff game.
“I can’t speak enough how important it is to have the fans turn out and cheer on the team through tough moments,” Turner said. “Just to sort of keep us going in the moment, and it can sometimes influence referee decisions inside the penalty area.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.