Stretching back to the MLS is Back Tournament, the New England Revolution have been shutout in three of their past five games. That run, likely not as a coincidence, coincides with playmaker Carles Gil being sidelined and undergoing surgery on his left Achilles tendon.
For Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena, it's the final product that needs to improve rather than his team's ability to create opportunities. That chance will arrive Sunday evening when facing Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada).
“We've created enough chances in games to get more goals, and whether you want to call it the final touch or not, that's up to you and all,” Arena said in his virtual press conference Friday. “But we clearly need to be better with our chances and create more as well.”
New England are coming off a 2-0 home defeat against NYCFC, pushing their 2020 record at Gillette Stadium to 0W-1L-3D. Back from a three-game suspension, Arena opted for Cristian Penilla in the No. 10 role, putting the Ecuadorian winger in an untraditional spot. Clear-cut chances were few and far between.
The Revs are clearly searching for solutions as Gil faces a three-to-five month recovery period. That places even great emphasis on DP forwards Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa shouldering the offensive load, though veteran forward Teal Bunbury feels the solution requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Heading into the weekend, New England are one of seven MLS clubs to have scored seven goals scored or fewer.
“I think that's the million-dollar question right now, is what we can do as a team, as a unit to start putting the ball in the back of the net,” Bunbury said. “I wish I had a clear and concise answer for you, but I think we have to just continue to put ourselves in the best position possible to score, and that's continue to create, continue to make runs, work for one another in training, push ourselves, get on each other.”
The solution probably won't come in the transfer market. New England’s already been active during the Secondary Transfer Window, acquiring midfielder Tommy McNamara and forward Kekuta Manneh via trade, but Arena isn’t actively combing for additions.
“I think like any team if there's a reasonable way to improve yourself you consider that, but we're not actively looking for players at this point,” Arena said. “We pretty much have our roster."
And Gil's not returning anytime soon, even if his recovery is going well. Arena said the 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year is making progress, which leaves him encouraged.
"The surgery was successful, he's not experiencing pain," Arena said of Gil. "But that doesn't translate to playing in a professional soccer game, so I think there's a way to go before we can even think about Carles returning to the training field."