FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was less than two weeks ago that the New England Revolution hit their first minor bump in the road in terms of results in 2021 – an 0-2-1 stretch over three games – and assistant coach Dave van den Bergh asked the pertinent question.
“This is the first setback that we’ve had this season results-wise, and now it’s a matter of what kind of team are we?” van den Bergh wondered on July 13. “Are we going to be a team that is going to now play up to the level of a losing team, or are we going to get back to our winning ways and have that grit, and desire, and determination, and the really good soccer that we’ve demonstrated over the first 10 games, 12 games?”
New England has answered that question in emphatic fashion, capping off a perfect 3-0-0 week with a 2-1 win over CF Montréal on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. Including victories over Atlanta United (1-0) and Inter Miami CF (5-0) the Revs outscored their opponents 8-1 since last Saturday, and took nine points from a single week for the first time since September 2014.
When the dust settled on Sunday night the Revs had not only stretched their lead atop the Eastern Conference to seven points, but they’d also taken over top spot in the Supporters’ Shield standings, making that 0-2-1 stretch in late June and early July feel like a distant memory.
“I think it was an objective for us to get all three wins,” said Gustavo Bou, who scored both of the Revolution’s goals on Sunday to move into a tie for third place in the MLS Golden Boot race with nine on the year. “It really feels good, honestly. It gives us a lot of confidence moving forward to hopefully remain on top of the standings throughout the rest of the season.”
Bou’s first goal on Sunday night will make highlight reels around the world as the Argentine striker shook the frame with a long-range rocket that caught the crossbar twice before settling into the net, but it was the timing of that strike that made all the difference.
In the 25th minute the Revs thought they’d taken a 1-0 lead when Carles Gil buried his own rebound from an Adam Buksa feed. The players celebrated, music blared, and the muskets fired as the ball was brought back to the center circle to be restarted. But a delayed Video Review saw the goal chalked off the board in what could’ve been a demoralizing moment for the Revs.
Instead, Bou broke through just four minutes later.
“Massive,” goalkeeper Brad Knighton said of Bou’s first goal. “That goal being disallowed can take the wind out of your sails, and for us to respond the way they did – some teams, with the fans booing and very upset with the situation, it would be easy to go relax and chill and concede a goal then and there. But we stayed on the front foot, we stayed proactive, and Gustavo can change the game in an instant like he did, and we’ve seen it many times before.
“It was much needed and it kind of took the wind out of their sails a little bit and kind of pepped us up a little bit. So, it was a great goal by Gustavo, and it definitely set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Similarly the Revs will be hoping this week sets the tone for the rest of the season, as they utilized 18 different players and claimed nine points in nine days despite being without several starters to international duty and injury. They’ll now have five days to recover ahead of next weekend’s visit to the New York Red Bulls for a match that will officially mark the halfway point of the 2021 schedule.
“It’s nice being on top and not chasing points,” said Knighton. “It’s week-in and week-out, win the week, and then move on to the next week. We’re doing it day-by-day, piece-by-piece, and game-by-game. We’re not looking at the bigger picture right now, but it was a hell of a week for us to get nine points this week, I’ll tell you that.”