FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With an 0-8-3 road record so far in the 2017 MLS season, the need for three points at home has been crucial for the New England Revolution. And, on Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the pressure ratcheted up even further.
Despite all that, the Revs responded resoundingly against one of Major League Soccer’s top road teams, earning a 1-0 win and improving to 3-1 in their last four matches. It also marked their sixth shutout of the year.
“Every game counts now, especially at home,” Lee Nguyen said after the match. “We have to get maximum points at home because we’ve clearly been struggling on the road. We’re hoping to -- we need to -- win a couple on the road, but as long as you can maintain this home form it gives us a chance going into the postseason.”
During New England’s recent stretch, Teal Bunbury has often taken on the goal-scoring duties. Bunbury indeed remained hot on Saturday night against the Whitecaps. Slotted back into the starting XI, the forward deftly volleyed home a Kelyn Rowe cross in the 53rd minute for the lone tally. The sequence was virtually a carbon copy of Bunbury’s 70th-minute headed goal in a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy on July 22.
When asked about his strong showing, Bunbury turned towards his faith.
“My faith in the Lord actually keeps me really strong during certain times in my life,” Bunbury said. “This stretch, I’ve been able to put my faith in him and know that when my opportunity comes, I want to make the most of it. I try to work hard in training, I try to show the guys I want to be a team player and I want to work hard.”
Moreover, the result marks a positive stretch – including an active secondary transfer window – for the Revs. Five weeks ago, Heaps’ team was in the midst of a four-game losing streak in league play, though they’ve righted the ship somewhat following July’s Gold Cup break.
And there are reinforcements on the way, both in defense and attack. In the last three weeks, they inked center back Claude Dielna to help plug their leaky backline, and executed a sign-and-trade with Columbus Crew SC to secure the services of forward Krisztian Nemeth. Plus, after nearly two months out with a quad strain, holding midfielder Xavier Kouassi saw 16 minutes against Vancouver in his continued recovery.
Mindful of all that, coach Jay Heaps said that there’s still ample work ahead if their playoff hopes are to become a reality.
“I feel like now we’re adding depth and adding Nemeth and Claude is now here,” Heaps said. “Now there’s going to be some real fights for positions, but also the ability to change games with substitutions.”