New England Revolution 2 - D.C. United 1: 3 Thoughts
New England secured three points against D.C.
The New England Revolution headed down to Washington D.C. and will be coming home with three points.
Both D.C. United and the Revs were missing some key pieces. Dylan Borrero was out due to international duty and Carles Gil appeared on the bench. United missed five players due to injury and two players due to international duty.
With some players missing, Bruce Arena inserted some new faces into the starting XI. Esmir Bajraktarevic and Jack Panayotou started alongside Noel Buck and Matt Polster in the midfield.
Up top, Bobby Wood and Gustavo Bou were the striker partnership once again with Giacomo Vrioni remaining on the bench. Latif Blessing was a surprise absence as he was not featured on the matchday squad at all. Jeff Lemieux reported that Blessing was cut during training on Thursday and required stitches.
But what do you need to know about the win to D.C. United? Here are three thoughts.
1 - The kids are alright
Arena decided to play the kids and I for one am happy about that. Panayotou received his first MLS start while Bajraktarevic got his second career MLS start. Fellow youngster Buck has been a more permanent fixture in the starting XI with five starts already on the season.
Bajraktarevic once again looked comfortable going up against MLS talent. He showed impressive skill on the ball. Arena even showed so much faith in the youngster that he took free kicks and corner kicks.
The 18-year-old finished the night with 34 touches and two chances created while completing 81 percent of his passes.
Buck continued to look impressive all with impressive passes that went through United’s back line like a hot knife through butter. He ended up scoring the decisive goal that secured three points for New England.
In his first start, Panayotou also impressed. A flick from him to Wood almost resulted in an early goal for the Revolution and it’s hard to have any harsh criticisms seeing that it was his first MLS game not just his first start.
All in all, it was an impressive night for New England’s youngsters.
2 - Bou ball
The Revs DP striker can be quiet for a majority of the game and all of a sudden come alive. He showed that once again against D.C.
After coming off the bench, Gil served up a beautiful ball to Bou who snuck a low shot into the net to tie the game. The striker is now the leading goal scorer for the Revolution.
With the striker position in flux with Vrioni being a dud so far in 2023, Bou’s goal scoring has been much needed. The team has needed him to step up and he has done just that.
It is also worth noting that Arena decided to go with Jozy Altidore over Vrioni when making changes. Altidore replaced Wood in the 62nd minute. Vrioni didn’t come on until the 86th minute when he replaced Gustavo Bou.
Bou ensured that New England walked away with some points. If it wasn’t for him, the Revs would have suffered a loss.
3 - Back line breakdowns
The end of the first half couldn’t have been any worse for the Revolution. A Christian Benteke goal gave D.C. a 1-0 lead that luckily wouldn’t be costly.
Towards the end of the first half, New England’s back line struggled. On the goal, Henry Kessler was the victim of ball watching and Benteke was able to sneak behind him.
Dave Romney also struggled throughout the first half. He put Djordje Petrovic under pressure with a poor pass and struggled against opponents winning just 20% of his total duels.
I also do want to note that Petrovic’s distribution has been sub-optimal. On numerous occasions, he has put New England’s back line under pressure. If it wasn’t for his top-tier shot-stopping ability, he would have let up a handful of goals.
While this is nitpicking at its finest, it is something to keep an eye on as the goalkeeper continues to progress.
After the start of the season, it was an out-of-character performance from the back line. The group has been impressive to start the season with New England having recorded clean sheets in three of their prior four games. Still, the Revs were able to secure three points so the poor play wasn’t too costly.
New England deserved to enter the half with the score even (or possibly holding the lead) but poor defending changed the momentum of the game. Nearing half it appeared that the back line switched off and D.C. made them pay.
Brandon Bye also made mistakes, including a misjudged header that almost resulted in United’s second goal of the night. All in all, it was a poor night from the back line but luckily a late goal ensured that New England walked away with the victory.
New England could make some changes as Andrew Farrell appeared on the matchday squad for the first time this season and is getting fitter by the week.
Luckily the Revolution managed to win but these problems could be costly later in the season.
The Revolution will look to secure their third straight win as they face NYCFC at Gillette Stadium next weekend.