After a 1-0 win to open the MLS Is Back tournament against Montreal, the New England Revolution can clinch a spot in the knockout round if they beat DC United on Friday (8 p.m., ESPN).
United’s testy 2-2 draw with Toronto FC Monday had been postponed twice. The teams were originally scheduled to play last week but pushed the game to Sunday after Toronto arrived late to the MLS bubble in Orlando, Fla. After coronavirus testing, the match was moved again after one player tested positive and another’s test was inconclusive. The teams played without the two players in question, who returned negative results when they were retested.
When they finally played, Toronto grabbed a 2-0 lead before halftime, and DC entered the second half with just 10 players because of Junior Moreno’s two yellow cards. But late goals from Federico Higuain and Frederic Brillant earned United a tie and a point.
“The result was remarkable given the fact that they were down two goals and with 10 players,” Revolution coach Bruce Arena said. “I think with them getting one point out of the game [against Toronto], they need to get a result against us on Friday, so they’re going to be well prepared.
“I know [United coach] Ben [Olsen] and I know that team has a lot of fight and character so it’s going to be a challenging game, so we have to have a good focus from the start, good concentration.”
Coupled with a strong showing from the team’s three designated players – Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, and Adam Buksa – who started together for the first time, the Revolution have options at midfield to help lead the charge against DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who ranks fourth in the league in saves this season (14).
Kelyn Rowe saw his first minutes of the season against Montreal, playing all 90 at midfield alongside Scott Caldwell, who missed the team’s March 7 draw with Chicago but started last week. Arena praised the play of both throughout June, but also acknowledged Antonio Delamea, Henry Kessler, and Teal Bunbury as players who could make an impact moving forward.
“We’re a good team,” said Buksa, who had three shots in 86 minutes last week. “We’re confident. We know we have a good chance to get through to the next round. But we respect our opponent. It’s not going to be an easy game.”
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Florida, MLS is celebrating a weekend without new cases in the bubble, after just one positive test came out of Sporting Kansas City last Friday. MLS announced July 14 that 1,227 individuals were tested from July 12-13, and none returned new positive cases.
The Revolution conclude the round-robin portion of the tournament on Tuesday vs. Toronto at 9 a.m.