PORTLAND, Ore. – New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury said prior to their preseason finale that the team needed to “go out there and get the job done,” and that’s exactly what their group did as they took down the Portland Timbers, 3-1.
“I think it was a real good game,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “I thought the first half at times we were in a little bit of trouble, and for our guys to hang and go into halftime with a lead was very impressive because I thought Portland played very well."
The Revs were trailing 0-1 to the Timbers until the 42nd minute when Brandon Bye played a perfectly placed cross to Gustavo Bou, who used a one-touch finish to level the score.
Only three minutes later, Bou gave New England the lead as he converted a penalty to send the Revs into the half on a high.
Striker Adam Buksa added an insurance goal in the 51st minute to put New England in the position to secure the victory 3-1 over Portland.
Attack “pieced together some very good goal scoring opportunities”
The three goals scored by the Revs were a promising sign for what is to come in the regular season. The two designated players, Bou (two goals) and Buksa (one goal), truly put out a performance as they linked up in the team's final preseason game.
“Yeah you can see that quality finds quality, and both of them are really good in the box,” said Turner. “Gustavo takes most of his chances and Adam works tirelessly up there and battles for balls in the air. He puts it away when gets his opportunities.
“We’re going to be dangerous in the final third, but we still could be cleaner there. We still could create more opportunities and make keepers make more saves.”
What was special about the attacking duo’s performance against the Timbers was the connection that was evident between these two designated players.
In Buksa’s one-touch finish on the team’s insurance goal, he tapped in a cross from Bou to lock up the lead for New England.
“They’re getting to know each other,” said coach Arena. “You can see today they pieced together some very good goal scoring opportunities. I think eventually we’ll get Carles Gil in there and it will make us a little bit better. I thought [Cristian] Penilla was dangerous as well and Teal [Bunbury] had some good opportunities.
“Overall, it was good. Our backline played well. Our young center back Henry Kessler was really good, so it was a really good effort by our team.”
New England shows character in come from behind win, but there are still improvements to make
It was evident postgame that the Revs understood their first half wasn’t their best effort.
“I actually don’t think that we were locked in for 90 minutes,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner. “I think we were lucky to be 2-1 up at halftime. We were really, really poor in the first half.’
“We made some adjustments at halftime and we got a little bit better,” said coach Arena. “I think the second half was a great effort. The game from both teams [was] a good pace to prepare us for the regular season. The preseason has been real good for us. I think the two weeks on the west coast has really been productive.”
While the time the Revs spent on the opposite side of the country has been valuable, the group knows there is still room for improvement.
“We just need to be cleaner,” said Turner. “We need to win tackles in the midfield. We need to be more organized. We need to read “danger” when danger’s occurring and just be cleaner on the ball in general.
“I think you saw in the second half we have the quality to play and pass and create opportunities that way. We don’t have to create opportunities strictly from pressing other teams. We’re going to work on it. It’s still early in terms of the season.
“Like I said, nice to wrap up preseason with a win and get things going.”
Important Revs “finish with a [preseason] victory.”
As New England closes their five-game preseason slate 2-2-1, it helps the team to finish their final match on a high note with a win.
“It means a lot,” said Kessler. “That’s something Bruce talked about is playing a complete game. Other preseason games, we’ve had good segments, but to have a good solid 90 minutes to finish with a victory.”
In addition to playing a “complete game,” finishing their preseason slate against the Portland Timbers in their tournament presented by Old Trapper Beef Jerky had a few extra benefits.
“It had the atmosphere of a real league game,” said Turner. “That’s good for the young guys especially, like Henry. [It] gets them the chance to be in front of a crowd this big, this loud and singing.
“[It’s] definitely a good way to end but you never want to get too high, you never want to get too low. Montreal’s going to be a different animal.”
“The win isn’t as important as the fact that we’re learning how to play with each other,” said coach Arena. “We’re getting our starting group the minutes they need for the regular season and that was accomplished. It’s always nice to win, but the games we have to win start on February 29.”
The Revs will play their season opener on February 29 at the Montreal Impact.