FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Defender Andrew Farrell and forward Gustavo Bou believe the New England Revolution squad possesses the quality, depth and desire to mount a strong challenge in the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Revs completed their regular season campaign on a winning note, defeating top-four seed Philadelphia Union on Decision Day to earn a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and set up an intriguing best-of-three Round One playoff series against the Union – last season’s MLS Cup runners-up.
Desperate to head into the postseason tournament buoyed by a positive result, the Revolution produced a gritty comeback victory at Gillette Stadium, as a Bou brace canceled out Julián Carranza’s opener. Speaking after the clash, Farrell and Bou acknowledged the challenge in front of them but also hailed the strength, skill and spirit of the team to have overcome their playoff rivals in a critical, confidence-boosting win.
“It was good,” Farrell reflected. “We haven't been playing well of late as everyone knows and when we're not doing well, it's just the confidence … We have the talent, we have talented players on our team – it's when confidence is low, it's rough, and so this was huge for that purpose.
“The last couple of weeks, we haven't played as well as we should have, but to get points against the team that we’re going to be playing [in the playoffs] is huge. We're playing against a team that we just beat. I think a lot of guys looked really well tonight, and that's just a big confidence boost.
“It's going to be tough, and anything can happen in this sport. One time , we were the number one seed, and things happen in soccer – but I think we have the players to do it, and I think [Saturday] was a good showing from an effort standpoint.
“Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen, and I think we have a good team when we show up – and if we show up, then we can play with anybody. You’ve got guys and game-changers that we have on our team – those three guys up top [Bou, Carles Gil and Tomás Chancalay], and the guys we have on the bench, and the guys we play – and anything can happen.
“To win these games and make it forward in the playoffs, you need the game-changers, and Gustavo has been one of those guys in the league; Carles is another, Tomás ... We have a couple of them, so to get [Bou] in form has been huge – he can win the game for you, and that's an important thing, especially in these tight games coming up.
“It's really good to see him come into form. Seeing the ball hit the back of the net, and then ending with the whistle and having three points in the bag is huge playing against Philly.”
Bou continued his comeback from injury by following up last weekend’s assist against Nashville SC with a double against the Union, netting his 50th goal for the club with a powerful near-post effort from Gil’s tee-up, after tying up the game from the penalty spot.
The Argentine forward was delighted to have written his name back onto the scoresheet in time for the Revs’ playoff run, and credited the contributions of Team MVP Gil and in-form winger Chancalay. The trio have combined well to strike up a fruitful partnership in recent weeks – each bagging a brace in the last three matches.
“A forward lives on goals,” Bou declared. “Personally, I really wanted to score – it has been a while for me with the injury. I’ve played a few games but I’m still getting my rhythm.
“I’m lucky that I asked to take the penalty kick. I had to score. I know Carles will always be there to support me. He didn’t doubt me. The striker has to score goals. I’m thankful to Carles, and on the second goal, it was a great goal and play. I’m gaining confidence.
“One always tries to collaborate with the team. [Interim head coach Clint Peay] knows that. We talked about it. It’s not my habitual position [to lead the line alone] – I like to play with two strikers. [Peay] knows I can play there and I can do it well. I’m always at his disposition. I try to help the team.
“We had a great game against a great opponent. I talked to [Peay] and my teammates, and that always makes it easier. I always try to adapt to my teammates just as much as I adapt to any position. I have great teammates, who get me great opportunities in front of the goal to score.”
There was also praise for young goalkeeper Jacob Jackson, who lined up for his second senior start and home debut at Gillette Stadium.
The shot-stopper bounced back from an early setback against the Union, conceding as a result of a miscommunication with Dave Romney which allowed Carranza to capitalize – but Farrell was pleased with the 23-year-old’s positive response.
“He's a good goalie,” the defender continued. “We have like I said, great players on our team, and Jacob has done well, taking the opportunity in the last game [at Nashville].
“He made some big saves, kept us in the game, and then [on Saturday] and he made the saves he needed to make.
“Obviously, things happen in games, and we just move on. He's a confident kid. We're confident in everybody in our locker room. We just get ready for the next game.
“This is exciting to make the playoffs. I think it's going to be a fun one against Philly. They’re a good team – well-coached, and [they have] really good players. We're all excited for that challenge.”