FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Matched up against an FC Cincinnati team that had conceded just one goal in their previous four games, New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena emphasized the importance of scoring early on Saturday night to force the visitors out of their shell.
As if scripted by Arena himself, Tajon Buchanan gave the Revolution that early lead in just the seventh minute and the floodgates followed, with Emmanuel Boateng and Adam Buksa making it 3-0 before halftime to set the stage for Buksa to secure his brace after the break and guide the Revs to a 4-1 victory.
“I was impressed with our start tonight,” said Arena. “It was important to get that first goal and deflate Cincinnati a little bit.”
All four of New England’s goals featured some element of flowing combination play, perhaps highlighted by Boateng’s first goal in a Revolution jersey in the 21st minute. Gustavo Bou’s clever flick found Buksa, who turned and guided a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of Buchanan streaking down the right. After taking on his defender, Buchanan chipped to the far post for Boateng to volley home.
It was the Revolution’s 14th multi-goal game this season and their seventh with three or more goals, both tops in MLS. Their 44 goals are also most in in the league, while they’ve now scored 11 goals in their last four games, all without MLS assist leader and MVP frontrunner Carles Gil.
“We knew that Cincinnati rarely changes their lineup,” said Buksa, who had two goals and one assist on the night to move into a tie for fifth in the MLS Golden Boot race (10 goals). “They played a game three days ago, so we kind of knew that we had to press them very high from the very beginning, because they might be tired.
“We managed to score two early goals, then the third one at the end of the first half, so I think we were in full control for the most part of the game. That was our plan and I think we did that well.”
Saturday night’s win capped off another perfect week for the Revs, who took the full nine points from a three-games-in-eight-days stretch. They’re now 8-0-1 in their last nine games, 9-1-1 at home, and have stretched their lead atop the Eastern Conference to a staggering 15 points. That cushion, according to Arena, is going to be critical as the Revs push through the final 12 games of the regular season.
“Anytime you win a game in this league, it’s big,” said Arena. “I think, at this time of year, it’s important to get the points in the bank, because as we get down to the last 10 games of the season, it’s going to be crazy with teams fighting for playoff positions and it’s going to be really challenging. For us to have, I think it’s 49 points now – 49 points in 22 games is pretty good. And it allows for us to have a few slip-ups along the way, which is going to happen. That’s all part of it, as well.”
In fact, 49 points in 22 games is slightly better than “pretty good” – it’s tied for the most points at this stage of the season in MLS history, matching the 2019 Los Angeles FC side that finished the year with an MLS record 72 points.
But that’s the furthest thing from anyone in the Revolution locker room’s mind, as they’re simply looking ahead to next weekend’s visit to New York City FC and another opportunity to pick up points against an Eastern Conference opponent.
“Our team has done a great job of continuing to take it game by game,” said Scott Caldwell, who made his first start of the season on Saturday night. “You don’t look at the big picture. You try to get three points and then move on from there. I think everyone has pushed really hard and done a great job of performing when they’re on the field. It’s gone really well and we just have to continue that.
“There’s still a long way to go.”