3 takeaways from the Revolution’s 2-1 comeback win

New England continued its unbeaten run and ascent up the Eastern Conference standings.

Revolution Dynamo 2-1 win
Teal Bunbury (center) is congratulated by teammates on the sideline after scoring to give Revolution a late 2-1 lead. –Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Revolution rallied from a halftime deficit to emerge with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. It extended the team’s six-game unbeaten run in league games, and it edged New England a few spots higher in the Eastern Conference standings.

After falling behind to a deflected first half shot from Houston’s Darwin Céren, New England got a 51st minute equalizer from Antonio Delamea on a headed corner kick. Teal Bunbury’s stoppage time winner represented a satisfying end to the night for Revolution head coach Bruce Arena and his players.


“It would’ve been disappointing not to walk off the field with three points,” Arena said afterward.

Here are a few takeaways from the second MLS win in Arena’s New England tenure:

Midfield diamonds are not forever.

The Revolution began the night in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation that included Juan Agudelo and Diego Fagundez as central midfielders. Carles Gil played in his favored central attacking midfield role, while Luis Caicedo anchored the diamond by sitting in front of the defense.

It was clear that the group wasn’t entirely comfortable in the newly adopted midfield diamond setup (as opposed to the customary 4-2-3-1). No one in the midfield made egregious errors, but there was a lack of fluidity.

“I probably screwed them up in the first half a little bit,” Arena admitted. “I don’t think that formation they were comfortable enough in, and not that as much as it was for Houston to play against.”

At the start of the second half, New England reverted to the 4-2-3-1 and began to look more threatening, eventually turning the game around.

The substitutes rode to the rescue.

As much as the change of system aided the Revolution in the second half, a pair of substitutions near the hour mark probably played a larger role.


Forward Teal Bunbury came on in the 57th minute, and winger Cristian Penilla entered in the 61st. It was no coincidence that the two linked up to score the winning goal.

“I think the second half switching our formation helped a little bit, but at the end of the day it’s still 11 against 11,” Arena explained. “I don’t get entirely consumed with the discussion of formations, because if the players know how to move and work together, any formation you play can work.”

Bunbury, who played a full 90 minutes in the midweek draw against Philadelphia, again showed his versatility. After playing as a center forward and left attacking midfielder against the Union, he scored the winner on Saturday playing on the right side of the field.

“Teal is such a smart player and can play effectively on both sides of the ball,” said Arena. “He’s a very good player and can play a number of positions on the field. He just helps our team. He’s a smart player, technically good, is a great teammate on and off the field.”

While Arena is still acclimating to his current roster, it’s clear he views Bunbury and Penilla as game-changers.

“We knew that if you can bring Penilla and Bunbury into the game, and you’re in position to win, that’s a real positive for us.”

Justin Rennicks showed his potential.

Massachusetts native Justin Rennicks, who recently scored a winning goal against France for the United States in the U-20 World Cup, made his first MLS start against Houston.


In the first half, Rennicks — one of the team’s homegrown players — played as a forward alongside Juan Fernando Caicedo. His movement at times was positive and intelligent, as he made angled runs that almost resulted in a goal in one example when a Gil chip put him through Houston’s defense.

When the team changed formations in the second half, Rennicks shifted out to the left but was less involved in the game. He was subbed off for Penilla, who appeared to be more comfortable driving in from left wing. Arena was happy with Rennicks’s effort, but he sees room for improvement.

“He’s a hard worker,” Arena noted. “He has to get used to playing in games at the senior level at this pace. His first touch has to get a little bit better, but he gave a good effort. He’s a handful and we’ll continue to see him throughout the season and hopefully he continues to move forward as a player.”