On a night when pregame lightning caused a delayed kickoff, it was still Argentinian forward Gustavo Bou who shined brightest at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 to extend the team’s nine-game unbeaten run in MLS competition, and the team’s record signing scored a thunderbolt of his own in a successful debut.
Bou, 29, signed with New England on July 10 in a record deal for the Revolution. Between the transfer fee and his salary, the total amount could reach as much as $16 million. It’s a statement of intent for the Kraft family ownership and new head coach Bruce Arena.
In his first opportunity to showcase his skills, Bou didn’t disappoint.
After a tentative start, Bou announced his presence in New England (and MLS) with a spectacular volley off a Carles Gil corner kick right before halftime:
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) July 18, 2019
“I’m very happy,” Bou said. “It’s the first time I’ve played for the club, and I think it happened in a great way since we won and got three points. I scored a goal in my debut, and the truth is, I’m just really happy about it. My teammates have helped me and have been great since I got to New England. I have great hopes here, so it was a really sound debut.”
Bou said Gil noticed Vancouver’s defenders sitting deeper on set pieces, leaving space at the top of the box.
“Carles told me after a couple of the first corners that there was nobody hanging back on the larger area behind the box, so in that specific moment I wanted to go backwards a bit and Carles yelled to me, I yelled to him, and I think it’s a connection that had a lot of quality,” Bou said of his strike.
It was an important goal for the Revolution, who had failed before that to maximize a dominant first half. In the second half, Bou had fewer touches but seemed to settle in. His ability to find space and connect with Gil nearly resulted in a second goal in the 72nd minute, and a back-heel to Teal Bunbury displayed his technical ability.
Afterward, Bou — who hasn’t played a competitive game since the season of his previous team, Club Tijuana, ended in May — admitted he was feeling the effects.
“To be honest I’m a little tired, my legs hurt a little bit, but I’ve spoken with the staff, and it was obviously a very long game,” Bou said. “Thankfully it ended well without any issues, and I’ll definitely be ready for the next game without any problems.”
The Revolution play at FC Cincinnati on Sunday, as Arena’s team looks to continue its move up the Eastern Conference standings. Since formally taking charge of the Revolution in early June, Arena is yet to lose a league game. And the veteran coach’s influence was a factor in drawing Bou to MLS.
“Really what interested me was Bruce and his technical staff,” Bou said, “and I’m very interested in the league itself. I have a lot of colleagues and friends who have talked about how great [MLS] is.”
Despite the pregame storms and ongoing rain, a modest but enthusiastic crowd of 10,575 fans impressed the Argentinian. They even chanted his nickname, “La Pantera” (“The Panther”).
“Yeah, it was really good,” Bou said. “It surprised me because it was so hot outside and the conditions weren’t great. They were shouting ‘Pantera,’ which made me feel really good inside, so I look forward to playing in front of them in the future as well.”
The Revolution face Orlando City at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Gillette Stadium.