Late Night With the New England Revolution: 3 Thoughts After 4-0 Loss to LAFC
The Revs didn't have an award-winning performance on Sunday night
The New England Revolution headed to the City of Angels to play the defending champions LAFC and the Revs ended up losing their first game of 2023.
LAFC was fresh off a 3-0 win in Concacaf Champions League over L.D. Alajuelense on Wednesday. While New England faced a test as they went up against one of the best teams in Major League Soccer, LA also was playing its second game in four days meaning that they had to rotate some of its squad.
Bruce Arena threw some surprises in his starting XI as Carles Gil did not start. Gustavo Bou did receive his first start of the 2023 season but appeared to play in more of a No. 10/CAM role. Besides those changes, the starting XI remained unchanged.
So what do you need to know about the disappointing defeat? Here are three thoughts.
1 - Matt Polster leads the way
With Carles Gil on the bench, Matt Polster received the captain’s armband for the first time in his Revolution career. It indicated how Polster has become a leader on and off the field for New England since joining the Revs in 2020. It was interesting to see Polster get the armband as Bou has worn it in the past.
Polster continued to do all the little things. He was ferocious in the midfield but also managed to spring New England forward on the attack.
The midfielder completed 91 percent of his passes in the first 45 minutes and had 41 touches. Polster also won 50% of his duels while recording seven recoveries and two interceptions.
While the Revs struggled, it is hard to blame Polster for the poor performance.
2 - Gustavo Bou blunder
Sunday night was the first appearance for Bou in 2023, and the Designated Player showed some rust.
While Bou made some quality touches early on, he made a crucial mistake in the Revs third of the field. The 33-year-old made a poor decision when defending inside the box and brought down Timothy Tillman and a penalty kick was awarded.
Denis Bouanga ended up taking the penalty and slotted it home past Djordje Petrovic. The Gabonese forward has scored five goals in his last two games played and is a man on fire for LAFC.
While the Revolution had plenty of time to mount a comeback, the goal stopped New England in its tracks and the momentum they had built in the game hit a brick wall.
3 - Back line worries
During the first two matches of the season, New England’s back line looked really strong. They hadn’t allowed a goal and the partnership of Henry Kessler and Dave Romney was looking strong.
But against LAFC, the Revolution defense looked more like a house made of straw compared to a brick wall. On the second goal from Bouanga, DeJuan Jones and Romney were left in the dust and so were New England’s chances of securing any sort of points.
Petrovic continued to be under pressure throughout the second half. He made some absurd saves and can not be blamed for the defeat. The Revolution as a whole made too many mistakes but the back line traveled in time back to 2022 when they were constantly being caught out of position and making poor plays. Any time you allow four goals, you have to look at the performance of the back line.
New England will look to play much better on Saturday when they return to play at Gillette Stadium but it won’t be easy. The Revolution will be hosting reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar and Nashville SC.
With Nashville boasting a nearly impenetrable back line that includes USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman and right back Shaq Moore — along with stellar goalkeeper Joe Willis — the Revs attack will be put to the test.
They need to put this game behind them and move on. It was poorly played only a couple of players came to play don't know where the others were? Pull it together and get ready for Nashville SC.