FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Friday night’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs match between the New England Revolution and Montreal Impact appeared destined for extra time, as the final whistle and 30 more nerve-racking minutes (and potentially a penalty shootout) loomed just seconds away.
Then, Gustavo Bou happened.
Taking a square pass from DeJuan Jones, turning towards goal and finding space to shoot from 25 yards, Bou unleashed a rocket that flew inside the left post, giving the Revs a dramatic 2-1 win and setting up yet another meeting with the Philadelphia Union in Round One of the playoffs on Tuesday night.
Officially scored in the 95th minute, it was the latest game winner in Revolution playoff history.
“Gustavo is a goal scorer, and we expect him to get goals,” said head coach Bruce Arena, who made Bou his first signing with New England last summer. “I don’t think we’re anticipating that he’s going to get them all the time in the 95th minute, but that’s what Gustavo does. He’s a goal scorer. He’s a good player, but his DNA is scoring goals.”
Bou has had a flair for the dramatic since arriving from Liga MX side Club Tijuana last July. Of his last 11 goals in a Revolution jersey, six have been in the 86th minute or later, and four of those have been either game-winning or game-tying goals.
In fact, Bou’s most recent goal was an 86th-minute game winner against D.C. United on September 27, and the Argentine forward had struggled with a hamstring injury ever since, as Friday night marked his first 90-minute performance since early October.
Safe to say, he made every minute count.
“It’s great to see that he got (a goal) tonight,” Arena said of Bou. “I think that’s going to help his confidence because it’s probably been a while since he scored a goal. I think that was a great goal for him and certainly a great win for our team.”
All told Bou registered eight shots – a Revolution playoff record – part of a 25-shot onslaught that saw Impact goalkeeper Clement Diop stand on his head, twice pushing Adam Buksa headers off the woodwork, including once in the 92nd minute just moments before Bou’s eventual winner.
For that reason, Bou’s dramatic strike felt like something of an inevitability, even if it didn’t arrive until the last kick of the game.
“It was pretty much on the last play of the game that we won, but it was clear that we were going to score a goal in the second half,” said Carles Gil, who opened the scoring with a sumptuous first-half volley, assisted by Bou. “Their goalkeeper played an outstanding game tonight. If not for that, we would’ve scored and taken the lead earlier in the game.”
New England will be thankful that Bou’s winner came before extra time, as the Revs avoided having to play 30 more minutes ahead of a quick turnaround for Tuesday night’s visit to Subaru Park, where the Revs will face Philadelphia for a sixth time in the past four months (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
“We’re definitely familiar with having three days’ rest or less. We did that a lot during the regular season and it will be like that again,” said Henry Kessler, who made his MLS Cup Playoffs debut on Friday night. “I don’t think too much will change. We’ve prepared for games three days ahead or four days ahead before, and I think our preparation will be similar.”