TORONTO – Saturday night’s visit to BMO Field played out precisely as Bruce Arena expected. Toronto FC, at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and desperate for points to gain a foothold in the playoff race, were aggressive from the opening whistle. The first-place New England Revolution, experienced and resilient, needed to withstand that pressure and find the right moments to pounce.
They did, and they did.
Ontario native Tajon Buchanan scored his fourth goal of the season in front of almost 100 friends and family and Gustavo Bou took over the MLS Golden Boot lead with his 12th goal of the year – New England’s only two shots on target – lifting the Revs to a fourth straight road win, 2-1 over Toronto FC.
“These types of games are going to happen throughout the year,” said Arena. “Even very good teams around the world, as they go on the road and they face opposition that’s playing well and has to win, it puts a lot of pressure on a team. To be able to keep composure and come out with results is simply outstanding.
“We expected for long periods of time to be on the backfoot tonight and we were. And to have the competitive instincts and the intelligence to win this game was a lot of credit to our players. We weren’t at our best tonight, but we competed, and sometimes that’s 90 percent of the battle.”
New England have competed all year, consistently finding ways to win regardless of the circumstances. Saturday night’s victory was their 11th of the season by a one-goal margin, including four games 1-0, four games 2-1, and three games 3-2. Only two other teams in the entire league (LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City) even have 11 total wins, regardless of the margin.
Four times now the game winner has come in the 83rd minute or later, including on Saturday night, when Adam Buksa was dragged down inside the penalty area to set up Bou’s decisive blast from the spot. It was the perfect response after TFC had pulled level just four minutes earlier through Jonathan Osorio.
“I think we’re a pretty fit team, so, you know, late in the game I think we tend to have an advantage,” said Henry Kessler. “That’s helped us throughout the year, as you said, with these late goals. I think our fitness is part of that. We’re never really going to get a road win, I feel, that’s more than one goal. I think it’s tough to win on the road, period. So if we get three points on the road, we’re happy, even if it’s only by a goal. I think our fitness is a contributing factor to that.”
Five of the Revolution’s six road wins – tied for most in MLS and tied for the club’s single-season record – have been by a single goal. By the end of Saturday night they’d created a 12-point gap atop the Eastern Conference and held a six-point lead atop the Supporters’ Shield standings.
Wins like Saturday’s have gotten them there.
“That’s a terrific three points on the road,” said Arena. “This has been a real grind for our team and all the teams in the league, and we have a difficult week ahead with a Wednesday and Saturday game, as well. To be able to come out with three points here and getting another win on the road is a real credit to the team.”