New England Revolution

‘Carles Gil is inevitable’: 3 takeaways as the Revolution clinch a playoff spot with a win in Chicago

New England have cruised to a club record for regular season wins with seven games to spare.

The Revolution officially clinched a playoff spot with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Fire in Chicago on Wednesday night.

A back-and-forth game was decided by New England playmaker Carles Gil’s stoppage time goal, giving the Revolution a third (and decisive) lead of the night.

The win not only hands Bruce Arena’s team a spot in the playoffs, but also gives the Revolution its winningest season. New England in 2021 has the most wins in a single regular season in its history, and still has seven games remaining.

Of course, the margin of victory was close, as it has been so often throughout 2021. The Revolution secured the team’s 15th win by a one-goal margin despite allowing 26 shots (10 on goal), and conceding 60 percent of the possession to the Fire.

Advertisement:

After New England center back Henry Kessler gave the Revolution an 11th minute lead, Chicago’s Carlos Terán got the home team level in the 40th minute off a header from a corner kick.

In the second half, Teal Bunbury deftly controlled Gustavo Bou’s flick-on before calmly finishing to give New England its second lead of the night in the 62nd minute. On the ensuing kickoff, however, the Revolution lost focus and immediately conceded yet again, this time with Fire midfielder Gastón Giménez tucking the ball into the corner to make it 2-2.

The final period of the game was determined by several key plays. A Kessler goal-line block, a few timely saves from goalkeeper Matt Turner, and — most importantly — Gil’s late goal all contributed to the bottom line of another Revolution win.

Here are a few takeaways from an intense matchup in Chicago:

The Revolution’s depth played Chicago to a first half standstill.

In what has become a staple of Arena’s management in 2021, the Revolution head coach made nine changes to his starting lineup on Wednesday from the one which started in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Columbus.

Arena hasn’t shied away from occasionally selecting an almost completely different lineup in order to cope with the business of New England’s schedule.

Advertisement:

In the midst of a run of four games in 12 days, the Revolution’s deep bench once again stepped in to play the opposition to a first half draw.

Just as they did against New York City FC earlier in September, a team devoid of its Designated Players (as well as Buchanan) went into halftime tied 1-1.

Henry Kessler stepped up in attack and defense.

Wednesday was the Revolution’s first game of the season playing without veteran center back Andrew Farrell.

And while it was far from a flawless defensive effort, a large part of why New England escaped with a win came down to Kessler.

The second year center back (selected sixth overall by the Revolution in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft) has progressed from a promising rookie to become a true difference-maker.

This was epitomized by his opening goal, showcasing Kessler’s skill — producing a quality finish, center back or not — and making the most of New England’s only first half shot on target.

In the second half, with the game tied and thoroughly stretched — the two teams would finish with an astounding 44 combined shots — Kessler again made a pivotal play.

This time it was in his more familiar defensive duties, making a 77th minute goal-line clearance to deny Chicago a go-ahead goal.

Carles Gil further cemented his case for MVP.

Despite missing the entire month of August due to injury, the 28-year-old Gil still holds commanding leads in MLS in both assists (16) and key passes (93).

Advertisement:

Entering Wednesday’s game at the start of the second half, Gil once again showed his importance, getting the ball and settling things down for New England in possession. Despite playing only half the game, he finished fourth on the team in total touches (46)

And just when it appeared that the game was destined for another frustrating draw (similar to Saturday’s result), Gil provided the requisite magic for a Revolution win.

Gil would never have had the opportunity had it not been for a strong run from Buchanan, who threw off challenges from multiple Chicago defenders before sliding the ball to the playmaker’s feet.

Having been shown onto his right foot all night by a wary Fire defense, Gil accelerated into the space before firing the winning goal into the roof of the net.

It was a performance that Revolution fans have become accustomed to since Gil’s arrival in MLS in 2019. And looking at the current MLS MVP race, Gil’s name is increasingly prominent.

As Revolution midfielder Matt Polster summarized in a postgame tweet, “Carles Gil is inevitable.”

The busy run of games continue for New England, who return to Gillette Stadium on Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff against Orlando City.

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com