FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – We are sure to see plenty of firsts when the MLS is Back Tournament kicks off in less than three weeks at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. The unique format of the tournament and the circumstances surrounding the competition guarantee it.
The New England Revolution, meanwhile, are very much on track to see a first of their own, as they’re aiming to get the Designated Player trio of Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, and Carles Gil onto the field together in a competitive match for the first time.
Buksa arrived as the Revs’ third attacking DP this past offseason and has New England fans brimming with excitement following a strong preseason and a stunning goal on his home debut. The 6-foot-3 striker has settled well, and gives the Revolution a dynamic option up top with his size and lethal left foot.
Those traits have already been shown to complement the guile and power of Bou, but Buksa has yet to play alongside the Revolution’s primary playmaker Gil, sidelined for the majority of preseason and the first two regular-season games because of a foot injury.
But now, as the Revs have returned to full-team training the past two weeks, Gil is back at full strength.
“Honestly, I’m very anxious,” Gil said via translator. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game. The last game I played was against Atlanta in the playoffs (eight months ago). I have a lot of hope and desire. I think we can do big things this season and we’re preparing ourselves for them.”
New England’s return to training and Gil’s return to health have given him the opportunity to form an on-field relationship with Buksa, and although they’re just two weeks into building that partnership, they’ve both been encouraged by the early signs.
“Carles adds tremendous value to our team,” Buksa said. “I think he’s the best player out of all, so we really missed him in the last two games – the first two games of the season. We will be a stronger team with him, that’s for sure. Now we have time to build up the chemistry not only between our [three DPs], but it’s all about the team. We need to find solutions how to beat our upcoming opponents using all 11 players.”
“Due to injury, I hadn’t had the opportunity to play with Adam yet, but I think we’re connecting well,” echoed Gil. “I think Adam and Bou have connected very well from the beginning, too. We have a lot of other good players like Teal [Bunbury] and Tajon [Buchanan] who can also play those positions. Surely between all of us we can find a lot of assists and goals offensively.”
Buksa and Gil – along with Bou and the rest of the Revolution roster – will have three more weeks to continue building that chemistry before they begin play in Group C of the MLS is Back Tournament, taking on a trio of Eastern Conference foes in the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and D.C. United.
They’re aiming to use that time to their advantage.
“I think we are doing well,” Buksa said of the progression through the first two weeks of full-team training. “We still have some points we need to improve, but I think we are looking pretty good. We still have some time to get better in certain points, but I think we’ll be ready for the tournament.”