KISSIMMEE, Fla. – When his signing was announced back on November 1, 2019, left back Alexander Büttner surely didn’t anticipate waiting quite so long to make his New England Revolution debut, and he certainly didn’t envision it happening under these circumstances.
But a nagging quad injury forced Büttner to miss the first two games on the 2020 schedule and then the COVID-19 pandemic halted the MLS season for four months, meaning his long-awaited debut came more than eight months after signing, with no fans in attendance at a neutral venue at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, as part of a unique, knockout-style tournament.
Still, after going more than a year without playing a competitive match since leaving Dutch side Vitesse in July 2019, Büttner didn’t care how he got onto the field – the feeling of victory was just as sweet as the Revs largely shut down the Impact attack en route to a 1-0 win.
“It feels good,” Büttner said. “I didn’t play (games) for a long time. I think it’s more than a year ago that I played an official game, so for me, it was a good feeling. I think we did good as a team. We played well, so it makes the feeling better and better for the couple of weeks here (in Florida).”
Büttner went 81 minutes before being replaced by DeJuan Jones for the closing stages, and he was instrumental in locking down the left side. Opta credited the Dutch defender with seven recoveries, while he won 10 of his 17 duels and completed 30 of 34 passes.
Perhaps most importantly, Büttner officially made zero errors leading to Impact shots.
“I think his actions spoke louder than anything I can say,” goalkeeper Matt Turner said of Büttner’s performance. “He was rock-solid there tonight. He did a great job. He brings a quality on the ball. He has a good knowledge of the game. He looked fit and he was getting up and down the wing.
“Alex showed a lot of guys that he’s got something left in the tank. He did a really good job. We’re pleased. Not only tonight, but also in training he’s been really impressive. He brings a quality. He holds everybody to a really high standard … Guys listen to him when he talks.”
Büttner had similar praise for Turner – “I think he saved the game for us,” he said of Turner’s heroic late stop – and now he’s looking forward to the Revolution’s second group-stage match against D.C. United, scheduled for Friday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
Following their victory over the Impact, both Büttner and the Revs have plenty to build from in Orlando.
“Of course it’s really important to win the first game,” said Büttner. “We have to focus on the second game and we also have to win the second game. Let’s start, it’s a new game. Let’s focus and take the points because it’s really important in the tournament to win the first couple games.”