FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Making six changes from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Atlanta United FC, head coach Bruce Arena was confident that his heavily-rotated New England Revolution side could secure another victory on Wednesday night in their first-ever meeting with Inter Miami CF.
But he wasn’t necessarily 5-0 confident.
Arnór Traustason and Adam Buksa both bagged braces and Teal Bunbury scored his second goal of the campaign to earn the Revs their league-leading ninth win of the season and send them – at least temporarily – to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings. They lead the league with 28 goals scored and have now kept back-to-back clean sheets, bringing their total on the season to five.
“We’re encouraged by it,” Arena said of the club’s depth. “We were confident in the group we put on the field and they were confident they could get three points. So I’m not surprised we walked off with three points. Obviously, the margin of victory is not something that I would have expected.”
That’s fair considering the Revs hadn’t scored five goals in a game since a 5-2 win over Minnesota United FC in March 2017, and hadn’t won by a 5-0 score line since May 2014 against Seattle Sounders FC. They finished just one shy of the club record for goals in a single game – six, registered in a 6-1 win over the Colorado Rapids in September 2004.
The fact that New England did so without leading goal scorer Gustavo Bou in the starting XI and without Tajon Buchanan in the matchday squad at all is a boon, and the same can be said for the clean sheet kept by goalkeeper Brad Knighton with a trio of changes in front of him.
“It just shows our roster is big,” said Traustason, who scored his first goal in a Revolution jersey in the 15th minute and waited just 21 more minutes to notch his second. “Everybody is on their toes. Everybody wants to play, so it’s just when the time comes, everybody’s ready. And we showed that definitely today.”
One of those three changes on the backline was A.J. DeLaGarza, who earned his first start with the Revs and helped shut down his former team, having spent the 2020 season with Inter Miami. DeLaGarza is a veteran presence who provides value both in the locker room and on the training ground, but on Wednesday night he was happy to also show his worth on the field.
“I have to play my part,” said DeLaGarza, who went the full 90 minutes and spent time at both right back and left back. “Tonight, my number was called and I had to be ready. Obviously I’m a different player than Brandon (Bye) and DeJuan (Jones). I think our whole team played a little bit differently tonight than we usually do, not pressing so high. We got another shutout and that’s another thing we can build on. It shows that we can press in games and we can also kind of be in our shape, defending as a group.”
Depth will continue to be paramount as the Revs continue a stretch of six games in 23 days, and there are likely to be more changes when they’re back in action on Sunday evening at Gillette Stadium, where they’ll host CF Montréal for the first time since last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs.