New England Revolution

3 takeaways from the Revolution’s Leagues Cup debut: Red Bulls earn extra point on penalties

New England managed a draw, but couldn't hold on during penalty kicks.

Revolution Red Bulls Leagues Cup
Carles Gil during the Revolution-Red Bulls matchup in Leagues Cup play on July 22. Via MLS/New England Revolution

The Revolution drew 0-0 with the Red Bulls on Saturday in both teams’ debut in the 2023 Leagues Cup. Because the format of the month-long tournament calls for no ties (beyond regulation), New York managed to notch an additional point on the night with a penalty kick shootout victory, 4-2.

As a result of the draw (and PK defeat), New England now enters an essentially must-win scenario in the second game of the group stage on Wednesday (July 26) when Liga MX side Atlético San Luis arrives at Gillette Stadium.

Here are a few takeaways from the tightly contested clash:

No separation between familiar foes over 90 minutes.

A game that marked the start of an international tournament represented for New England and New York merely the resumption of a matchup that had been played exactly two weeks earlier in exactly the same venue (Red Bull Arena).


And much like the July 8 MLS regular season matchup (a 2-1 Revolution loss), it was a game played at a frantic, chaotic tempo.

“They were somewhat similar,” Bruce Arena said of his team facing New York’s high-pressing approach. “A grind out there. When we play with Red Bulls, that’s what games are going to look like. There was going to be a lot of contact. Challenging on the referee. Maybe he was a little over his head today on some of this. So, it’s a Red Bulls game.”

Aside from — as Arena noted — a few moments of controversy for the officiating to parse, the game was dominated by New York’s commitment to limiting both New England’s space and time when in possession.

Despite creating the better opportunities, the Red Bulls were unable to find a breakthrough due to the team’s ongoing issues with actually converting chances in front of goal. Multiple shots that fell to the feet of New York forward Dante Vanzeir were sent aimlessly out for goal kicks.

Testament to the frenetic quality of the game was New York completing a lower percentage of passes than New England (75 percent vs. 77 percent) even as they appeared to hold the upper hand for much of the 90 minutes of regulation.


And even when New York appeared to have found a way through, ever-present Revolution goalkeeper Djordje Petrović calmly denied them.

Penalty kick shootout eventually went against New England.

As is always the case with penalty kick shootouts, having the best goalkeeper is no guarantee of success.

Initially, however, it appeared Petrović had delivered the decisive save. The 23-year-old palmed away Elias Manoel’s opening effort for the Red Bulls. And after Carles Gil calmly converted for New England, it seemed like the visitors might be on track to steal a point.

Unfortunately for the Revolution, it was not to be. DeJuan Jones was unlucky to not score when he hit the woodwork with his shot. And despite striking the inside of the post, the ball bounced across the goal-line and clear.

Giacomo Vrioni, who was subbed on during the second half, tried an unorthodox run-up for his penalty kick, but the poorly struck shot was easily pounced on by New York keeper Carlos Coronel, clinching the turnaround triumph for the Red Bulls.

What does this mean for the Revolution’s tournament chances?

Because the Leagues Cup groups are no more than three teams (as opposed to the usual group of four), it reduces the Revolution’s margin of error significantly.

What might prove to be an underrated element of Saturday’s result was that New England did manage to get a draw in regulation time (thus clinching a point). Depending on results going forward, it could end up being the difference.


Yet the reality for Arena’s team is that it now needs a positive result against San Luis on Wednesday. Anything less than a win (whether on penalties or in regulation) will all but guarantee a first-round exit (and a multi-week layoff that Arena has said he wants to avoid).

“[We’re] still in a tournament,” Arena said. “You know, the idea is to advance out of group play, so we’re still in position to do that. That’s what I take away.”


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