FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The first two games of the New England Revolution’s 2020 season have been case studies in just how thin the margins are in professional soccer.
“We’re two chances away from having four points rather than one,” said goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
It’s a simplification of the 180 minutes New England has played, but it’s also true. Tajon Buchanan smashed a close-range header off the post last weekend in Montreal, where the Revs suffered a 2-1 loss rather than claiming a late point. Justin Rennicks then missed a glaring chance in stoppage time of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire FC, robbing the Revs of a dramatic win in their home opener.
Two big chances. Three missed points.
But the Revs also can’t boil their draw with the Fire down simply to that late Rennicks chance. They took a 1-0 lead into halftime thanks to Adam Buksa’s first MLS goal – a silky turn and finish inside the box – and had several opportunities to extend that lead before Jonathan Bornstein pulled Chicago level in the 70th minute.
The biggest of those chances arrived in the 68th minute when Cristian Penilla blasted a gilt-edged chance over the bar at the end of a lethal counterattack. Two minutes later, Chicago were level.
“We said at halftime we were going to score a second goal as quickly as possible, because it would put us in a very good position for the second half,” said Buksa. “We didn’t do it. We had some chances. Chicago were very lucky in some moments, but they also had some chances in the end, so we have to accept this point.”
“You look back at these moments, but collectively, as a group, I think we’ve got to do better putting the game away earlier,” added Knighton. “We had chances in that game to put the game off and finish the game, and in this league, if you don’t take your chances, they come back to bite you more often than not.”
There were also several chances to find a winner after Chicago equalized, the Rennicks opportunity notwithstanding. Both Buksa and Brandon Bye beat Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm in the 77th and 80th minutes, respectively, only to see their shots cleared off the line.
But it simply wasn’t to be for the Revolution on Saturday afternoon, and they’ll need to regroup ahead of next weekend’s visit from the Portland Timbers, as the Revs have four more home games on tap between now and mid-April.
“We’ve just got to learn from that and move forward,” said Knighton. “It’s a young season. We’ve got a lot more games in the upcoming days here at home, and (we’ll need to) maximize those points when we get them.”