FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Carles Gil, Tajon Buchanan, and Adam Buksa all began Saturday night’s game on the bench. Gustavo Bou wasn’t even in the matchday squad. And visiting New York City FC took a 1-0 lead early in the game when Santiago Rodriguez finished off a Valentin Castellanos pass.
In the end it all mounted up to just another challenge for the New England Revolution to overcome, which they did en route to a come-from-behind 2-1 win, their 17th of the season to match a club record set in both 2005 and 2014. The Revs will have nine more opportunities this regular season to establish a brand new mark, including five more games at Gillette Stadium.
Emmanuel Boateng began the comeback with his second goal of the season, finishing off a smart layoff from Edward Kizza after good buildup play from Teal Bunbury and Andrew Farrell. Gil and Buchanan then came off the bench in the second half to combine on the winner, Gil’s league-leading 16th assist of the season teeing up Buchanan’s seventh goal of the campaign.
It was the Revolution’s fourth comeback win of the season, and their third in Foxborough.
“We got out of here with three points,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena, adding that the 53rd-minute red card to NYCFC’s Alfredo Morales played a big role on the night. “I think after about 20 minutes, we played alright. Two good teams playing. Game was pretty even. Tajon obviously scored a great goal and we had chances to make the game a little easier on ourselves with a third goal. Never got that, so it was a nail biter right to the end. But I think we deserved the three points.”
There’s no question that the sending off of Morales changed the game, but so, too, did the second-half introductions of Gil, Buchanan, and Buksa. Gil entered to start the second half – Arena noting that was the predetermined plan as he builds fitness after a month-long injury absence – Morales was sent off in the 53rd minute, and the duo of Buchanan and Buksa came on in the 61st minute.
By the 65th minute, New England had the lead.
“You can obviously see the spark that those guys bring,” said Matt Polster, who set a new career high with 90 completed passes at 96 percent accuracy. “We’re a really good team. We have a lot of players that can help win games. There are certain guys like Carles who brings a spark that not many can do. Similar to Tajon. Tajon brings a lot of pace and aggressiveness with his runs. Carles can pick the pass from just about anywhere. When you have the best player in the league coming back, that’s always a positive.
“And Adam coming off the bench is pretty important, considering he was balling out for Poland. He should score for us now since he scored for Poland. I told him that. It’s nice to have those three guys back.”
Matt Turner also returned from international duty to improve his record to 12-3-4, helping the Revs close out their 14th one-goal win of the year to set a new MLS single-season record. Of course, they would’ve preferred to score a third or fourth goal and ease their way to victory, but they’re also buoyed by the fact that they’ve consistently found ways to get results over the line all season.
“I was just told that’s our 14th win by one goal, and that’s a bunch,” said Henry Kessler. “I think it’s a good thing. Some of those we were up 3-1, maybe should’ve closed it out at 3-1, so we would’ve liked to have won more games by multiple goals. But a win is a win, so we’ll take three points however we can get them.”
The Revs have gotten points every which way in 2021 – now up to 55 of them and still with a 10-point lead atop the Supporters’ Shield race and a 14-point lead in the Eastern Conference – and next weekend begins a hectic period in which they’ll play four games in 12 days, a stretch that could ultimately decide how they’ll close out the regular season.
“We have a little bit of an advantage as we close out the season, but the month of September, we have to get through in a good way, because there are a lot of difficult games,” said Arena. “It’s nice to have a little bit of a cushion now. I’d hate to be scrambling to try to get one of the top seven spots and have to deal with all these other issues.”