“Our mentality has been stronger” | Revs seal second straight win with late Boateng strike

6_8_24 Ema celebration

After a week marked with concerns about how the New England Revolution would handle key absences on the wing, it was fitting that none other than super sub Ema Boateng would be the one to tuck away the winning goal against the New York Red Bulls.

His pivotal 81st-minute strike also turned out to be the game’s only goal, indicative of a match that was at some points tense, and at others, perhaps a bit lackluster. In the end, though, the Revs were made to fight for all three points, and head coach Caleb Porter said after the full-time whistle that he was happy with the win, their second in a row, as well as the progression he has seen in his squad.

“We’re putting consistent performances together,” he said. “I think that’s the key. And the biggest key is, our mentality has been stronger. We’re finding ways to get results. That evolution, I’m very pleased with. So I think for me it’s unquestionable, we’re evolving in every aspect: The soccer, the defending, the chance creation for sure. We are finding goals – I’d still like us to find a few more. The mentality, everything, the confidence, all that.”

As is often the case in single-goal games, defense was crucial to the result. Goalkeeper Aljaž Ivačič secured his second clean sheet with the Revolution, making five saves, while defender Xavier Arreaga put in a standout performance in the backline, executing a number of important tackles as well as earning his first assist credit with New England.

Porter, however, made clear that every player on the field chipped in defensively and played a part in securing the win.

“I thought we won the game today because we defended well from start to finish,” he said. “For me, there was never a question, it was going to be a clean sheet today, and I believe with the group we have that we will, if it’s a clean sheet, find a goal. There have been some games this year where it’s been 0-0 and we don’t find the goal and we give up the goal, so I was really proud of our defensive performance today, and that’s not just the goalkeeper and the backline, it’s everybody. Everybody dug in, battled in a difficult game, so real proud of that.”

At the same time, the coach also recognized that, as always, there was still room for growth.

“I didn’t think we played as well today as we did against New York City, or Nashville,” Porter said. “I did think there were periods where we really put some good football together, we just didn’t get the goal out of it. That cutting edge needed to be better. That precision, especially when we’d get wide and behind their line and we just missed these slides that we work on, we just have to continue to work on it.”

For his part, Boateng was all smiles in the locker room after the game, though Revs fans will know that he is hardly a man that needs a reason to share his joy. He was, however, helped along by some hijinks from teammates Jonathan Mensah and Giacomo Vrioni during his postgame interview, and he said that moments like that spoke to the level of unity in the team.

“We're working hard for each other,” Boateng said. “We have a very good group. This group has been together for quite some time, so we know each other really well. We’re working day in day out. We obviously are not happy with where we are in the standings, but we feel like if we keep working – I haven’t seen moments where I feel like there was a break in the group. I think we've been solid the whole way, and we're going to go all the way until the season ends.”

As for his performance on the field, the Ghanaian said that a conversation he’d had with Porter during the week had motivated him to step up his own game for the sake of the team.

“He challenged me this week,” Boateng said. “He said he knows what I'm capable of and he felt like I could do more for the group. So, I took it to heart, worked hard this week in training and when the opportunity came, I felt like that was a chance I had to take to help the team. Carles [Gil] put in a great cross. It was actually a really great build up all the way to that, and Carles put in a great cross. I decided to step in there and finish it.”

Looking ahead, Porter still felt that the task at hand was daunting, but said that he and this team were more than up for it.

“I’m confident this group can make a run here,” he said. “We know we’re in a hole, there’s no doubt about it. We’re in a hole. We have to continue to fight our way out and it’s going to take every game and it’s going to take until the end of the season. It’s going to be a fight every single week until the end of the year based on the hole we’ve been in, so our guys are ready for that fight.”

That fight picks back up in one week’s time against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Foxborough Faithful will be hoping to see two straight wins turn into three, while the ‘Caps will be intent on continuing their strong performance thus far this campaign and maintaining their spot near the top of the Western Conference.