Adam Buksa improved his scoring streak to six games, scoring twice as the Revolution played to a 2-2 tie with Atlanta United on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The Revolution (3-5-3, 12 points) exhibited a wide-open style, threatening to the end and nearly pulling ahead on a late Tommy McNamara shot. Atlanta United (4-4-3, 15 points) played without several starters, including US national team central defender Miles Robinson (Achilles’ rupture).
Buksa had a shot blocked soon after the opening kickoff, but the Revolution were soon placed on the defensive as Atlanta capitalized on aggressive defending and a composed passing game. Matt Turner made a spectacular save on a Thiago Almada free kick (10th minute), the sequence set up as referee Allen Chapman allowed play to continue after Carles Gil claimed to be fouled from behind while losing possession. Almada opened the scoring (15th minute) after a corner kick set up by a Ronaldo Cisneros advance on Brandon Bye, leading to a corner kick, followed by a cross that was deflected to the top of the penalty area.
Buksa equalized, finishing a give-and-go with Gil, firing under former Revolution goalkeeker Bobby Shuttleworth in the 30th minute. Buksa broke the tie with a back-post finish off a Sebastian Lletget cross in the 55th minute, improving his consecutive game scoring streak to five in MLS games and six in all competitions, one behind Wolde Harris (2000) on the all-time Revolution list.
Luiz De Araujo equalized in the 63d minute following a failed clearance. McNamara nearly gave the Revolution the lead, hitting the left post with a left-footer in the 87th minute.
“Not our best day,” said Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena. “We made some mistakes, obviously, in the game and probably could have done a little better job of protecting the lead in the second half. But the one thing that was a positive at the end of the game, we at least closed the game out, and didn’t concede a goal like we’ve done in a number of games this year. So that side of it is positive.
“I think, obviously, if we improve defensively, we’ll probably win some more games. The positive part is, I think over the last half dozen games or so, we’ve scored a bunch of goals. So certainly, if we can be a little bit better defensively, we’ll win more games.”
Observations from Sunday’s game:
▪ The Revolution displayed resilience and flashes of clicking on all cylinders offensively, and that was enough to earn a tie. McNamara has nailed the crossbar and post in the final minutes of the last two Revolution MLS games, 2-2 ties with the Columbus Crew and Atlanta. In recent seasons, Gustavo Bou specialized in those type of dramatic shots, determining the outcome for the Revolution. Bou, after leading the Revolution with three goals in the preseason, has not scored this season and has been out with an undisclosed leg injury since March 9.
▪ Buksa has been effective via physicality — finishing in the air, and also in holdup play — but he has also displayed impressive skill on the ball. Of Buksa’s last five goals, three were left-foot, one right-foot, one headed. Buksa, who has totaled 10 goals in 11 games in all competitions, has been effective as a lone striker, but the Revolution need to pair him with Bou to optimize their strike potential. “I have no idea how to answer that question,” Arena said of Bou’s return. “We’ll see. It’s going to take a while for him to get back in a rhythm. He’s been out an awful long time, so we just have to wait and see.”
▪ Turner’s flying stop early on helped the Revolution withstand a slow start. The Revolution will likely lose Turner ($7 million transfer to Arsenal FC) after five more games, plus a US Open Cup match against New York City FC at Belson Stadium in Jamaica, N.Y., on May 25. Buksa, likely to join Poland for the World Cup later this year, could be next to go to a European club. “In order to find myself there,” Buksa said of the World Cup, “you need to prove game by game that you deserve that spot. So, it’s a long-term goal, which is obviously my goal, but the way to find myself on the roster and in the national team at this time is just keep doing what I’ve been doing so far and don’t think too much about the future in the long-term period.”
▪ The Revolution have squandered leads in the last five games, going 2-1-2. Arena’s all-out attacking style often leaves the Revolution vulnerable, but also has been leading to pyrotechnic finishes to games, with both teams producing opportunities down to the wire.
For most of the first half, Atlanta players were first to the ball, keeping the Revolution off balance. But the Revolution eventually capitalized on space left open by Atlanta, which was missing midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (knee), goalkeeper Brad Guzan (Achilles), forward Josef Martinez (knee), plus Robinson (ex-Arlington High School, Boston Bolts), all injured on non-contact plays.
▪ The Revolution, who visit FC Cincinnati Saturday, moved to 0-3-2 on the road, snapping a three-game away losing streak. Atlanta has compiled a 3-0-3 home record. “We came in with the mentality to win the game and we stood up with that,” McNamara said. “We wanted 3 points in this game. So, we’re a little disappointed that we didn’t get that. But on the flip side of it, Atlanta is a good team, at home. It’s difficult in MLS to go away from home and win games. Atlanta had their chances and made the game very difficult for us. I think over the course of the game, I think a draw was kind of a fair result. We kind of need to take that away from home.”