The Revolution’s Big Three got their act together in the second half as the Revolution took a 3-2 win over D.C. United on Wednesday night, moving within 2 points of capturing their first Supporters’ Shield.
Adam Buksa, Carles Gil, and Gustavo Bou rallied the Revolution from a 1-0 deficit after spending much of the match being outdueled by D.C. The Revolution (21-4-6, 69 points) improved their unbeaten streak to eight games and won their fourth straight road match in their only visit to Audi Field this season. The Revolution hold an 11-point lead in the overall standings over the Seattle Sounders, who played to a 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids Wednesday.
D.C. (12-13-5, 41 points) took the lead as Nigel Robertha finished a rebound in the 51st minute. The sequence started off a Luis Caicedo turnover, Drew Skundrich sending a deflected pass to Ola Kamara, who shot off the left post, Robertha one-timing the follow.
Buksa equalized 10 minutes later with his 14th goal of the season, heading in a Tommy McNamara cross following a build-up that began with Andrew Farrell near the end line. Gil broke the deadlock, faking two opponents to the ground as he moved right to left, then fired off Bill Hamid’s hand from the top of the penalty arc in the 64th minute. Bou added his 15th goal of the season in the 79th minute, converting with a near-post shot off a Buksa backheel. The play set up as McNamara pulled back a pass from the end line.
After a sluggish start, the Revolution seemed transformed once Bou, Buksa, and Gil got going. They were on the verge of a fourth goal as an Arnor Traustason cross landed in the penalty area, but then allowed a Ramon Abila header off a counterattack in the third of eight stoppage time minutes.
The Revolution, who visit Orlando City SC on Sunday, improved their road record to 10-3-3.
“An odd game, a sloppy game, on our part,” said Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena, who won his 239th MLS game, one behind Sigi Schmid’s record. “We were outplayed in the first half. Conceding the first goal is not a formula to win games, yet we showed the kind of character we’ve shown all year. I thought Adam had a great goal and certainly the next two were outstanding goals, as well.
“The players know how to play, they know what they need to do, and they just had to pick it up and they picked it up a notch, and our top three attacking players got the job done. You know, I would’ve like to have walked off the field 3-1. We got a little sloppy at the end again and conceded that second goal. But overall it was inconsistent but our last 30 minutes were good.”
Observations from Wednesday’s game:
Gil said in a post-match interview he was motivated to outduel D.C. midfielder Felipe Martins, especially after Felipe attempt to incite the crowd following a play on Gil on the end line early in the second half. Felipe set the D.C. defensive tone early, taking down Gil from behind (fourth minute), then grabbing Tajon Buchanan and earning a caution (17th) from referee Nima Saghafi. It took time for Gil to escape Felipe’s attention. “They were man-marking Carles all over the field with Felipe for the most part and continued that in the second half,” Arena said. “But you can’t do that for 90 minutes and you can’t do that on every play.”
Late in the first half, the Revolution switched Buchanan to the left wing, Gil moving to the right. The change eventually paid off. “We decided in the second half to put me in the right side and see what happened,” Gil said. “If [Felipe] went with me, we’d have more space in the middle and I’d have more space on the right side.”
Caicedo, who replaced Matt Polster after halftime, made his third appearance of the season after missing a year following knee surgery. Caicedo’s giveaway led to the opening goal, but he compensated with some impressive one-on-one defending and his win in the center circle started the play that led to the go-ahead goal. Polster was cautioned in the 42nd minute, and will receive a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. “I thought [Polster] had a sluggish first half, he didn’t look very sharp, he was a step slow, and we couldn’t afford him get sent off,” Arena said. “They [United] were more physical, they won more second balls in the middle third of the field, and in the second half I think Luis and Tommy helped us turn that around a little bit.”
Revolution defender Brandon Bye recovered after a subpar performance in a 2-2 tie with the Chicago Fire, combining effectively with Buchanan on the right wing. Bye used Gil as a decoy as he drove upfield to help set up the opening goal.
The Revolution, 6-0-3 in nine games against D.C. United since 2018, are one win short of the league record with three games remaining. They conclude their road schedule at Orlando City, and will fall short of the league record for road points (37). “We played 17 on the road and typically teams in our league have losing records on the road,” Arena said. “It’s an exceptoinal record.”
D.C. UNITED-REVOLUTION 2-3
D.C. UNITED: Bill Hamid; Chris Odoi-Atsem (Tony Alfaro 81st), Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora (Kevin Paredes 68th); Julian Gressel, Felipe Martins, Russell Canouse (Junior Moreno 73d), Drew Skundrich (Adrien Perez 68th); Ola Kamara (Ramon Abila 81st), Nigel Robertha.
REVOLUTION: Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Tajon Buchanan (Arnor Traustason 81st), Tommy McNamara (Scott Caldwell 89th), Matt Polster (Luis Caicedo 46th), Carles Gil (Emmanuel Boateng 87th); Adam Buksa, Gustavo Bou (Teal Bunbury 86th).
Referee: Nima Saghafi. Goals: Robertha 51st, Buksa 61st, Gil 64th, Bou 79th. Attendance: 13,387.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.