Revolution have their eye on winning Group C outright at MLS is Back tournament

"This game is huge, nothing’s solidified yet about us getting out of group play, so that’s important to us."

Mike Ehrmann
Midfielder Carles Gil left the Revolution's last game because of a foot injury.

First place in Group C and a berth in the Round of 16 is up for grabs Tuesday morning when the New England Revolution play their MLS is Back tournament group-stage finale against Toronto FC at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Revolution (1-0-1, 4 points) are tied with Toronto (1-0-1, 4 points) atop the group standings through two games, while third-place D.C. United (0-0-2) is two points behind heading into its match versus last-place Montreal later Tuesday.

With the top two teams from each group automatically advancing to next week’s knockout stage, Revolution forward Teal Bunbury understands the importance of winning Tuesday and not letting tiebreakers determine the Revolution’s fate. The four highest-ranked teams that don’t finish in the top two of their group will also advance.

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“This game is huge, nothing’s solidified yet about us getting out of group play, so that’s important to us,” said Bunbury. “Also, our league standing is important, so we want to get three points. This isn’t a game where we’re going to be comfortable getting a point and hoping we make it in the top two and get out of the group. For us, we’re going in there with the mindset and mentality that we need to get three points.”

The Revolution had a chance to clinch a spot in the Round of 16 on Friday, but they squandered a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute and tied D.C. United, 1-1. Coach Bruce Arena called the tie a disappointing result, saying the Revolution gave the game away. The Revolution had a number of scoring chances that they didn’t convert, including a great look by Gustavo Bou in the 80th minute that sailed over the crossbar.

Bou and Adam Buksa have scored the two Revolution goals in the tournament.

“Obviously, we want to get a positive result and we can be better with our finishing,” said Arena. “I think defensively we’ve been good. We’ve held our opponents to very few dangerous goal-scoring opportunities. We’ve created enough to score more goals, so we can be better there.”

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The Revolution will have their hands full Tuesday with a potent Toronto attack that has six goals in two games. Forward Ayo Akinola leads the tournament with five goals after scoring three in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Impact, while midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo has already recorded five assists in Orlando. The Revolution have allowed one goal in their two games.

“They have the leading goal scorer in the tournament and lot of people would say Pozuelo’s arguably the best player in the league, among others,” said Arena. “He’s their playmaker and he’s a player we have to be aware of. But having said all this, who knows what kind of lineup they’ll present? Our biggest focus is on getting our team ready.”

Revolution midfielder Carles Gil is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game after leaving the match against United in the 62nd minute with the same foot injury that forced him to sit out the first two games of the season before the pandemic shut down the MLS season.

Despite a quick turnaround from Friday, midfielder Diego Fagundez said the Revolution will be ready to go for Tuesday’s 9 a.m. kickoff (ESPN)..

“I think we’re all feeling prepared for this third game,” said Fagundez. “We know that Toronto, it’s going to be a hard game, but at the same time we know what they can do and they know what we can do, so at the end of the day if we perform and play to the best ability we can definitely take three points from it.”

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