FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, the New England Revolution defeated the defending MLS Cup champions Columbus SC in a thrilling 1-0 victory on Sunday night to move atop the Eastern Conference standings (3-1-2; 11 pts.).
Both teams remained scoreless into the 86th minute, however, striker Adam Buksa broke through with a one-touch finish inside the near post off service from Brandon Bye and Carles Gil to give the Revs the game winner.
“Going to the first post is a thing that Bruce [Arena] tells us strikers to do every time, because it’s the most dangerous place in the penalty box where we can score goals from,” said Buksa. “It paid off today. As I said, that was the only chance that I had today and I used it, so I’m very happy. Hopefully, I’ll score more goals like that in the future.”
“It was a heck of a game,” said Arena. “Two good teams playing. Someone had to jump on not a mistake, but someone had to make a play that made a difference in the game – and we did. I’m happy for Adam. Adam needed that goal. Excellent service from Brandon. We’re real pleased with that.”
What added to the skillful finish from the 24-year-old striker is the remarkable timing of his goal. Buksa made an immediate impact coming off the bench in the 83rd minute, bringing tremendous energy with his fresh legs to score only three minutes after he stepped foot on the field.
“It’s a bit different to come on the field in the late part of the game,” said Buksa. “You don’t have to calculate – you can just push yourself as much as you can. That’s what I did today. But in the end of the day, when I have a chance in front of the goal you must stay calm and place the ball in the net, which is probably the most difficult part of soccer in my opinion. Happy to have done that today.”
Buksa’s efforts and intensity stood out to both his teammates and coaches.
“To come off the bench and put that kind of performance in, you can see the work rate he had even prior to the goal,” said Matt Polster. “He was pressing players and getting in box and then he rewarded himself by getting in front of the defender and finishing a really good cross by Brandon.
“He’s a really good player. We need him to keep that kind of form to stay competitive within this league and to win something.”
“In the brief probably total of 15 minutes he played, he was tactically on spot and obviously the goal was huge,” said Arena.
Adding to the emotion of his late game winner, Buksa had a very special family in the stands cheering him on, and perhaps bringing him good luck for his performance.
Last year near the start of the pandemic, Buksa surprised and invited two Rhode Island frontline workers, Meghan and Roby Marshall, their eight-year-old twin boys, as well as their older daughter to be his guests at a game, receive personalized Buksa jerseys, and meet him after a match once fans were allowed back at Gillette Stadium.
It was a storybook finish for the Marshalls to come meet Buksa following his incredible performance against Columbus.
“It was a great moment,” Buksa said with a smile. “I met my little fans from Providence. Their parents work [on the frontlines], I believe, so they’ve been struggling a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. I liked to really say a big thank you for the family for their courage, commitment, for all the community to help people out in these difficult times."
Buksa’s actions spoke even louder than his genuinely thoughtful words, as he provided the three Marshall kids with their very own No. 9 Buksa jerseys, along with personalized messages to each child and his autograph.
“I promised them to give my jerseys to their children,” said Buksa. “They were very happy with it, and I was also very happy to make them happy, because that’s something I really, really love, to make other people happy. I hope they enjoyed the game, and I’m pretty sure that we earned a few extra fans for the Revolution. I hope they will spread the will to support the Revolution to the other people. Definitely a great moment.”
As Buksa’s goal will be remembered as the Revs’ game winner over Columbus, the Marshall's memory of meeting Buksa for the first time will live on forever as an incredibly special night for their family.