The 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs kick off this Friday, November 20th. The first game of the tournament features the eighth seeded New England Revolution taking on the ninth seed, the Montreal Impact. This game comes as a part of the play-in round, which occurs exclusively in the Eastern Conference. The winner will face off with either Philadelphia or Toronto in round one.
— X-New England Revolution (@NERevolution) November 16, 2020
The good news for the Revolution is that they’ve performed fairly well against the Impact this year. Including the MLS is Back Tournament, Bruce Arena’s men have managed three victories and one defeat in 2020 against the side managed by Thierry Henry.
Matches between these two have been 🔥 this year!
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 17, 2020
Montreal managed their lone victory way back in February, just three games into the season. Teal Bunbury opened the scoring to give the Revs the lead. However, Romell Quioto and Maximiliano Urruti each scored for Montreal to secure a 2-1 victory.
In July, the Revs picked up their lone victory of the MLS is Back Tournament against the Impact. Carles Gil delivered a man of the match performance, creating 13 chances. Gil also assisted on Gustavo Bou’s goal in the 56th minute. That tally was all New England would need to hang on for a 1-0 win.
September saw the Revolution and the Impact clash once again. The Revolution dominated this game in terms of possession, shots and chances created. They came away 3-1 winners in the end, thanks to goals from Henry Kessler, Bou and Diego Fagúndez. It is important to note that of the four games the Revs have played against Montreal this season, this one was the lone match that took place at Gillette Stadium.
The final regular season match between the two teams took place in October. The Revolution came away 3-2 winners, thanks in large part due to a standout performance from Adam Buksa. The Polish striker assisted on Kekuta Manneh’s goal in the 13th minute to open the scoring. He found the back of the net himself in the 52nd minute, which ended up being the winning goal. Teal Bunbury was the other scorer for the Revs, with his tally coming in the 20th minute.
Keys to Victory
The Revs have shown consistently this year that the Impact are a team that they are capable of beating. So what exactly do they need to do on Friday to insure that they will be moving on? Here are a few keys to success to look out for ahead of the most important match of the season.
Shake Off Gillette Jitters
It’s no secret that the Revolution have not been particularly impressive at home this year. They’ve won just two games at Gillette, drawing five and losing three. However, there are a few positives embedded in this worrying trend. Firstly, both of those wins have come in their past five home matches. That would seem to indicate that the Revs are trending in the right direction at home. Secondly, one of their home victories was recorded against none other than the Montreal Impact. As I noted above, the Revolution were dominant in that game. They’ve shown convincingly that they can beat Montreal at home once already. Why should Friday night be any different?
Offense From The Onset
There have been too many examples down the stretch of the Revolution falling behind and only turning up the offensive pressure at the end of games. I mentioned this as one of my takeaways in this article back in October. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed since then. The Revs did manage to overcome a slow start against DC United at the beginning of the month, winning 4-3 in a topsy-turvy game after going down 2-0 early on.
That DC United game stands out as the lone game all season that New England has won after conceding the first goal. They simply cannot afford to go down that path again on Friday. So how exactly can the Revs ensure that their offense is clicking right out of the gates?
Get The Big Three Involved
The Revolution’s final game of the season ended in a 2-0 defeat to Philadelphia, but there was one major bright spot. For the first time since July 21st, Bruce Arena had the luxury of starting all three of his big attacking players in Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil and Adam Buksa. These guys are the Revs three Designated Players for a reason. They’re here to work off of one another and create a dynamic attacking threat.
Injuries have disrupted that vision for the majority of the season. Now, with everything to play for, Gil, Bou and Buksa have the chance to lead the team again.
The Revolution have already proven that they are capable of beating Montreal. Now that they’re getting healthy at the right time, I’d expect more of the same on Friday.
If New England can start fast and get their big names involved, success is on the cards. I like the Revolution to win 2-1, with goals from Adam Buksa and Teal Bunbury.
– Andrew Fasciano (@afasc573)
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