Teal Bunbury and Carles Gil goal celebration

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Brad Friedel changed more than half of the New England Revolution’s starting XI last weekend as six fresh faces entered the fold against Minnesota United FC, but it was a slight change in how some of the Revs’ key attacking pieces set up that might’ve made the biggest difference.


Carles Gil, who played primarily as a second forward through the Revolution’s first four games, dropped a bit deeper to partner Scott Caldwell in central midfield. That allowed Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury to start up top together for the first time this season, and the results were there to see in the Revs’ 2-1 win.


The strike partnership combined to take six of New England’s season-high 19 shots and both were involved in the buildup to Brandon Bye’s second-half winner, with Agudelo winning a key second ball and Bunbury delivering the final pass to the back post.


“I think it’s super beneficial to have two guys up top,” said Bunbury. “I enjoy playing with Juan. There’s a different dynamic in terms of who’s checking to the ball. We can combine a lot more.


“Having Carles kind of underneath us – he doesn’t have a free reign, but he can get the ball in different areas and open up space for us, as well. I enjoy playing with two strikers up top.”


Gil also seemed to benefit from the shift, as the Spanish playmaker picked up his first MLS assist on Jalil Anibaba’s opening goal and created six chances, the second-highest total for any MLS player in a single game this season.


Gil’s vision was perhaps most evident in the 34th minute, when from the left channel he delivered a sublime curling ball over Minnesota’s backline for Agudelo, who narrowly missed out on a spectacular goal. It’s that vision that gave Agudelo the confidence to make that type of run.


“I think it’s actually really awesome that a player like [Gil], with his ability, is able to face forward and play some forward balls, which gives me and Teal the ability to maybe go into the gaps and receive those balls,” said Agudelo. “It just felt like in this way, the whole team had more options – playing forward, playing to the sides, keeping the ball. I just think there were a lot of triangles and options on the field.”


“Having someone who’s comfortable on the ball and can kind of pick you out wherever you are, it really is helpful,” added Bunbury. “You have that in your mind going into a game that the more runs I make, more often than not Carles or other players that play in there will be able to find us.”


The result was likely New England’s best attacking performance of the young season, as they scored a pair of goals from the run of play and threatened for more on several occasions, and it was their ability to possess the ball in different areas of the field that paved the way.


“We just felt a little bit more comfortable once we got four, five, six passes connected,” said Agudelo. “Other games, we weren’t able to do that. Once we gained that belief, we started getting that belief closer and closer to the goal, and we were able to get some shots off.”