FOXBOROUGH — There was nothing to decide for the Revolution on MLS Decision Day. But there was plenty to celebrate, despite the Revolution losing, 1-0, to Inter Miami Sunday. The result cost the Revolution (22-5-7, 73 points) a chance to break the league wins record, but did not dampen their post-game enthusiasm, as they were presented with the Supporters’ Shield in an on-field ceremony.
The Revolution came through in decisive games in the last two months, setting up an anti-climactic finale to their 26th season before a crowd of 31,635 at Gillette Stadium.
The Revolution had a 10-game unbeaten streak snapped as they finished with a 12-2-3 home mark, tying the team record for home wins and points (39). And sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena concluded the season with 240 victories, tied with Sigi Schmid for the all-time league mark.
Blaise Matuidi, a World Cup winner with France, scored on a deflected shot in the 58th minute for Miami (12-17-5, 41 points), which had been eliminated from playoff contention last week.
The Revolution dominated early and seemed capable of matching their 5-0 win over Miami in July. But Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil missed open nets early, setting a tone as the Revolution continued to misfire to the end.
“I think there are similarities to playoff games, playoff games aren’t going to be 5-zero,” Arena said. “They’re going to be one-goal games. I think a lesson we learned tonight is we better finish our chances. That’s always been the playoffs, they’re tight games, they’re intense. I should go over and bring some beers to the Miami locker room because they gave us a good practice game for the playoffs. And we fell short, so that’s a good lesson for us, and we can understand why. For the most part we had a good effort. It wasn’t like it was a bad performance. Give Miami a lot of credit they played a very disciplined game. We just had to convert our chances. We certainly were positioned to win the game but just fell short.”
Observations from Sunday’s game:
▪ The top-seeded Revolution will meet either Atlanta United or New York City FC in the playoffs later this month. “That’s a nice moment, we need to get ourselves ready for the playoffs now,” Arena said. “That’s the goal [MLS Cup]. Certainly it’s going to be challenging, like it is every year for every team. Hopefully, we’ll have our team ready. We’re playing the winner of Atlanta-NYC FC, so we’ll be prepared for that. We’ll have a plan by the time the guys come back on Tuesday.” In 2001, the Revolution had seven weeks to prepare for the US Open Cup final, a 2-1 golden goal loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
▪ The Revolution claimed their first Supporters’ Shield, clinching the award after 31 games. “It’s great, especially for this franchise,” said Arena, who has captured a record four Supporters’ Shields. “I’ve been part of this before with other teams and we’ve never had a ceremony for the Supporters’ Shield, so this was a little bit new to me. But I think we had a fabulous regular season. It’s historic. Great year, I’m happy for the players, I’m happy for the fans, especially the ones that have been here for 26 years, if there are any.”
▪ Revolution leading scorer Adam Buksa (16 goals) missed the game with a foot injury, and Arena said: “It would be nice to have Adam on the field tonight. Injuries are part of the game, we went through that all year. That’s not a reason why we lost the game. Adam will be ready for the playoffs.” Arena added that he had sustained a partial Achilles’ tear as he limped slightly out of the post-game press conference.
▪ Arena said the Revolution are hoping to re-sign Bou and plan to keep Buksa, who could receive transfer offers. Arena has been negotiating with Bou’s agent, Christian Bragarnick. “We’d like to have them back next year,” Arena said. “We’ll work on getting [Bou] a new contract.”
Said Bou in a recent interview: “We could come to an agreement that is good for the club and for me. They know how I feel. But I am concentrating on the season, which is going very well, and is not finished yet, and I don’t want to distract from the goal. I feel very good, very content, with my family, my teammates, the coaching staff. I feel great here, I feel at home.”
▪ The Revolution have contested six playoff games since 2015, only one at home. “I thought it kind of resembled a playoff game, where the away team is conceding some space and forcing us to break them down,” Revolution defender Henry Kessler said. “And they made it difficult, they really packed it in and condensed space, and we could potentially see that in the playoffs. Obviously disappointed with today’s result. Something Bruce said afterwards: ‘Don’t let that take away from the season you had — best season in MLS history points-wise so that shouldn’t be forgotten because of today’s result.”
▪ This was the first time the Revolution had been held scoreless in 11 games and the first time they had failed to score at home since a 0-0 tie with Nashville SC Aug. 4. “This was a game we experienced a couple times this year,” Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara said. “I said it in those games, we need to be a little bit more ruthless on the attacking end and on the defensive end. We had chances to score goals and we didn’t take them. This is what it’s going to be in the playoffs, it’s going to be tight games. When you get moments to win the game you need to take them.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.