Everything you need to know about the Revolution’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire Sunday night in quickie form, complete with Bay State Soccer Sentinel analysis and insight:
A rare win on the shores of Lake Michigan for Revolution: It’s been a while since New England has won in Chicago — March 9, 2013 — and that drought came to an end Sunday night thanks to the Revolution’s 2-1 win over the Fire at Soldier Field. The win is The Boys In Blue’s second road win of 2020 and third win away from Gillette Stadium thanks to the 1-0 neutral site win over Montreal in Orlando, and the three points accrued moves the Revs up to fifth in the Eastern Conference — the highest the Revs have been in the table in over two years — with 14 points.
Bunbury’s brace does it: The first goal Teal Bunbury scored Sunday was absolutely legit, and we’ll talk about that in a second, but with the score level at 1-1 and the Revs finally getting more of a foothold in the much — again, something we’ll discuss in a few heartbeats, be patient — TB10 put New England ahead for good… and it was totally on accident. Nine minutes after the re-start and Bunbury on the ball some 21 yards away, he volleyed in the direction of both Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou. But the ball carried and carried, and Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth flailed to stop it, tucking in at the far post to put the Revs ahead for good.
Fast start for the Revolution, but Chicago levels: Unlike in the last couple of matches, New England started the game like they had arrived at O’Hare on Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. It was a Matt Polster dispossession that got the first attack — and to be fair, the only serious attack of the half by the Revs — going, as he got the ball to Bou. Bou found Buksa, who laid the ball off to Tommy McNamara with his noggin. McNamara found Bunbury with a well-weighted ball, and he calmly slotted the finish to put the Revs up by a goal to nil after only three minutes. But as we said, that was pretty much it: the Revolution had difficulty making anything happen after that, and after Chicago equalized through Fabian Herbers in the 20th minute, New England barely threatened and its passing accuracy dwindled. Herbers’ goal came off a corner, the ball coming out to the center. The Fire pinged it off Andrew Farrell’s legs to Herbers behind him, and he had an easy finish. A lackadaisical defending array there that had the fandom scratching their heads.
Arena makes five switches to the XI: As we expected after the horror show at midweek, Bruce Arena made five changes in the outfield alignment, including three defenders: Alexander Büttner replaced DeJuan Jones, Antonio Delamea making his first appearance since July 17 in place of Henry Kessler, and Farrell for Michael Mancienne. Diego Fagundez made the start in place of Kelyn Rowe, with Buksa taking his place in the XI back from Cristian Penilla. McNamara made his second consecutive start, and Sunday slid into the No. 10 role. The start for DF14 was his 251st appearance, moving him three appearances away from tying Matt Reis, and Matt Turner went the full 90, thus eclipsing 5,000 minutes played.
Teal Bunbury: Who else? Sunday was Bunbury’s fifth career two-goal match, and we can’t say it wasn’t deserved — even if it was a happy accident. The way Bunbury has played since the re-start two weeks ago has been phenomenal. He’s now at four goals in 2020 and has the team lead.
Brandon Bye: We’ve spoken a lot about Bye’s soccer IQ in the past, and he brought it tonight. Denying service to second half sub Robert Beric and some head’s up concession of corners instead of letting Chicago have the ball back through open play were huge contributions by the de facto right back.
Arena’s sub patterns: We’ve been critical before in certain instances about Arena’s substitutions, but I think making the switches to Old Guard players in Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe to settle things down in the final 20 minutes was brilliant. That’s what experience on the bench brings you, because the midfield was absolutely dreadful before that.
Antonio Delamea: The Slovenian went 45 minutes, and it certainly wasn’t his best. Some really poor decisions in that first half, and he’s not making a case to keep himself in the rotation.
The midfield in the first half: We’ll give credit and say that for the first 20 minutes the Revolution midfield did what they needed to do; McNamara’s pass to Bunbury was absolutely picture perfect. But they soon lost control the game and couldn’t assert itself as the Fire gained control. You can count on one hand the number of times New England got into Chicago’s half of the field from minute 20-45, and watch how quick they lost possession. In fact, here’s the midfielder’s passing map from the first half:
LET’S TALK ABOUT STATS, BABY
The biggie: nine shots, three on-target. Three were off-target, three were blocked.
37.8 percent possession. Sometimes you don’t need to have the ball a lot… but sometimes you do.
71 percent passing accuracy. 58 percent in the attacking half.
Gustavo Bou was offside four times. Chicago was offside twice.
Matt Turner had five saves, putting him at 199 career saves.
WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW
That’s now three wins away from Gillette this year, which ties last year’s win total in that category. Can they get a fourth next weekend? We’d love to see it.
THEY SAID IT
“I’m really proud of the guys. We gutted out a big win against a tough opponent on the road. I think we bounced back from our game against New York City FC. Still a lot of things to improve on, but we come out of here with three points. I’m proud of that.” — Teal Bunbury on Revolution Postgame Live
Up next for the Revolution is a trip to Chester and their third tilt against the Philadelphia Union in 2020. That’s slated for Saturday, with an 8 p.m. kickoff here on the Soccer Sentinel. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you then.