CHICAGO – The message for the New England Revolution ahead of their meeting with Chicago Fire FC was simple: find a response from their home loss to New York City FC and show the quality and character of this team.
New England did exactly that on Sunday night with a massive 2-1 win in the Windy City, and wasted no time getting down to business as Teal Bunbury buried the first of his two goals after only three minutes. However, it wasn’t only the finish that was impressive, but also the buildup. Adam Buksa won an aerial duel to get the ball to Tommy McNamara, who unselfishly played a close-range pass to Bunbury to put it away and set the tone for the game.
“First, it was a great flick from Adam,” said McNamara. “Nobody really speaks about that, but that is what set up the goal is he beat his man in the air and he played the ball of to me. The ball came down, I took a touch, and it was kind of in between my feet.
“I knew I could take another touch and shoot, but I saw Teal [Bunbury] coming on the backside and I thought that it just would have been a better opportunity to play the ball off of Teal. I thought that nobody would be expecting it and I might have had to take one more touch to get myself up to shoot. It was a great run from Teal. It was a really good finish and a great way to start the match really.”
Bunbury praised McNamara’s judgement in a pivotal moment on the pitch.
“Tommy got the ball in a great position,” said Bunbury. “What a ball he played me. I don’t remember the last time I got a ball in a position like that. [It was] great vision on his part. I think we caught Chicago off guard and he played an unbelievable ball to me, and I think it was my job to tuck it away.”
“Tommy is a good soccer player,” added head coach Bruce Arena. “Good passer, technically pretty good – something that we need a little bit more of in our lineup. He gave us that tonight. He’s now played in three games and he’s contributed in each game, so I think he’s been a good addition to our team.”
McNamara was acquired by the Revs from the Houston Dynamo in August. In his first 11 days with the team, McNamara has played three consecutive games, making the quick transition to this squad look seamless.
“It’s been a great transition,” said McNamara. “I’m really happy to be here. The guys are great. The staff is great. Everyone that is working in and around the club. I’ve only been here for a short time so I’m still trying to get myself into the team and get comfortable with what we’re trying to do with guys on the field. I enjoyed the role I played today.”
Although the midfielder has yet to play a full 90 minutes, he believes he is in a good position physically as he works up to a full run-out.
“I feel good, I feel fit,” said McNamara. “I’ve worked a lot on fitness in the quarantine period before the MLS is Back Tournament, I stayed fit throughout it and after it and then coming up here and doing 10 days of a lot of fitness to be prepared.
“I feel good physically and it’s up to the coach what he decides to do but I felt good tonight before coming off.”
McNamara will continue to integrate with the squad as they train to kick off at the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, September 12.