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Revolution 3, Cincinnati FC 2

The Revolution blew a pair of leads, but Tommy McNamara came to the rescue in the 89th minute

Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara scored the winner in the 89th minute.Amanda Loman/Associated Press

The Revolution twice squandered the lead, but this time rallied for a 3-2 victory in a visit to FC Cincinnati Saturday night.

Sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena’s emphasis on offense paid off as Sebastian Lletget and Adam Buksa converted spectacular goals in the opening half, then Tommy McNamara scored the clincher in the 89th minute, the Revolution (4-5-3, 15 points) winning for the first time on the road this season.

After Lletget’s scissor kick and Buksa’s backheel provided advantages for the Revolution, who play host to the Philadelphia Union next Saturday, FC Cincinnati (6-6-1, 19 points) rallied on goals by Brandon Vazquez and Alvaro Barreal.

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Following a 1 hour, 18 minute weather delay, the Revolution opened the scoring as DeJuan Jones hit the right post, then Brandon Bye collected a clearance and crossed, Lletget finishing from near the penalty spot in the 17th minute.

Vazquez equalized off a John Nelson cross in the 26th minute, heading past a diving Matt Turner for his seventh goal of the season. Luciano Acosta set up the sequence, holding possession on the left side of the penalty area, freezing the defense, then laying off to Nelson. Omar Gonzalez, starting in place of Henry Kessler, held off former BU star Dominique Badji at the back post, but Vazquez was left open.

Buksa broke the deadlock with an inventive backheel finish off a Bye cross in the 43d minute. Jones started the sequence, picking off a Nick Hagglund pass, then Gil found Bye open on the right. Buksa nearly let Bye’s cross bounce past him, timing his shot perfectly, catching goalkeeper Roman Celentano off guard. Buksa, who left the game with a possible ankle injury in the 80th minute, converted his 11th goal of the year, extending his scoring streak to seven games in all competitions, tying Wolde Harris’s team record, set in 2000.

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Cincinnati rallied on Barreal’s left-foot finish off a Badji cross (58th). The play was set up as Acosta took a long throw-in from Alvas Powell, then found Badji, who went to the end line against Jones, then found Barreal open near the top of the penalty area.

McNamara one-timed a shot into the far corner off a Bye layoff, the play set up by midfielder Lucas Maciel, who entered the game as a second-half substitute, along with Colombian Dylan Borrero and Gustavo Bou, making his first appearance since March 9.

Wilfrid Kaptoum made his first start of the season in midfield for the Revolution, in place of Matt Polster (suspended), combining well with Gil and McNamara. Damian Rivera returned to the starting lineup after sitting out a 2-2 tie with Atlanta United and was cautioned after committing his first foul of the season in the fifth minute.

“We got a break getting a goal at the end of the game,” Arena said. “We scored in the last, I don’t know how many road games, we score at least two goals a game. Tonight, we had three, so we’re in position to win games. We’ve made some mental errors but the team generally has been very competitive on the road, just hasn’t been able to collect 3 points. Defensively, we’ve got to be better, for sure.”

Observations from Saturday’s game:

▪ This was the Revolution’s team-record seventh successive multiple-goal game and Gil’s fifth consecutive match with an assist. And the Revolution could become even more explosive with the addition of Borrero and return of Bou, who made his first appearance since leaving a Champions League match against UNAM Pumas in Mexico with a leg injury. “Gustavo looked like a real veteran out there,” Arena said. “Dylan, obviously, has to get used to this league, our team. Little bit of a gamble bringing him in at that time but we need to get him on the field. He’s going to be a good player so for the first game I thought it was pretty good.”

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▪ The Revolution, who have surrendered leads in the last six games (3-1-2), improved to 3-4 in one-goal results. The Revolution are averaging 2.0 goals per game on the road (1.75 in all games). Last season, the Revolution set a league record with 18 one-goal victories, averaging 1.91 goals per game. “It’s a new year, I hate talking about last year, to be honest,” Bye said. “It’s nice to get the road win and move forward as a team. Three great finishes — Seba, Adam, and Tommy — you can’t ask for better finishes. I just put the ball in the spot and they do the rest.”

▪ McNamara hit the crossbar (90th-minute-plus) and post (87th) in 2-2 ties with the Columbus Crew and Atlanta United in the Revolution’s previous two MLS games. But McNamara’s primary responsibility was defending against Acosta, whom he mostly shut down in the second half. “Tommy was very good defensively, dealing with Acosta in the midfield is a bit of a handful,” Arena said. “An outstanding performance on his part.”

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▪ The teams play similar styles, Cincinnati guided by former Revolution forward Pat Noonan, who got his coaching start under Arena. And the emphasis on offense makes for wide-open play, a positive endorsement for the league and a likely recipe for success for Cincinnati, which won six times in its first MLS season and four games in the last two seasons. The Revolution have compiled a 5-1-0 all-time mark against FC Cincinnati, losing, 2-0, in the initial encounter at Gillette Stadium in 2019.





Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at frankdellapa@gmail.com.