FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution might be missing several starters, along with coach Bruce Arena, but they remain difficult to defeat at home. Giacomo Vrioni’s 30th-minute goal made the difference as the Revolution took a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium Wednesday night, extending their home unbeaten streak to 13 games.
The Revolution (13-5-7, 46 points) took sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference and improved to 10-0-3 in home games.
Vrioni scored his sixth goal of the season, going in alone on the left side of the penalty area, then finishing with a low shot to the back post. The sequence began with Nacho Gil starting a counterattack by eluding two opponents, then finding Mark-Anthony Kaye, who lofted a pass over the back line to Vrioni.
Vrioni scored on his second shot over a three-game span, taking the team lead with nine goals in all competitions.
After falling behind, the Red Bulls (7-11-8, 29 points) modified tactics by playing through the midfield, refreshing the lineup with five substitutes midway through second half. But the Revolution remained compact defensively, central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Dave Romney keeping things under control in front of Earl Edwards Jr. Nor did the Revolution renounce the attack with outside backs Matt Polster and Ben Sweat advancing, and most of the team bombing forward to the end.
Observations from Wednesday’s game:
Defining moment: Nacho Gil demonstrated an effective way to overcome the press — dribble past a Red Bull or two, then quickly slip a pass to an open teammate. Few MLS players have the ability and are willing to risk trying to break the press solo, but if it works, space opens. But to complete the play, Vrioni had to read where the Red Bulls were vulnerable, capitalized as right back Kyle Duncan was caught upfield, then ran on to Kaye’s pass.
Difference-maker: Playing as a lone striker, Vrioni has had few touches. The Revolution have struggled to find him over the top, and have produced few crosses without outside backs Brandon Bye (knee surgery) and DeJuan Jones (undisclosed injury). Vrioni got off three shots against the Red Bulls, increasing his total to four attempts in the last three games (262 minutes).
Tactical: Despite being below full strength, the Revolution set the tone by sending players forward, even while protecting the lead. The Revolution stayed with a 4-2-3-1 setup, playing through Carles Gil in midfield, though they struggled last week against Montreal’s five-defender alignment. They created several chances against the Red Bull’s four-man back line.
Statistical analysis: Though the Revolution attempted only eight shots, they were in position to score several times. Polster hit the bar with a left-footer (25th minute); Ian Harkes nearly finished a Gil feed (49th); Bobby Wood failed to control a Gil pass on a breakaway (77th); Gonzalez sent an unmarked header wide off a corner (80th).
By the numbers: The Revolution have a six-game home winning streak in league play since May 27, and are 12-1-5 (40-16 goal differential) at home in all competitions.
Road ahead: The Revolution meet Austin FC, which joined the league two years ago, for the first time at Gillette Saturday night.
What they said: “We felt like we put together a deep team and have faith in all our players and support for them. You need your guys who don’t play all the time to come in and do a good job for you. I thought they did that. It’s not an easy game. Red Bulls, the way they play, make it difficult on you. They’re super intense. They’re constantly playing balls forward and putting you under pressure. When you have the ball, they’re constantly pressuring you. It’s always great to be at home with your fans and in your home stadium, getting the support from them to help you along and keep that record going. Hopefully again we’ll do that on Saturday.” — Revolution assistant coach Richie Williams (replacing Arena, who is on administrative leave).
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.