FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena now has a proper “measuring stick” for his team.
LAFC, the prohibitive Supporters’ Shield favorite, came into Gillette Stadium on Saturday and ended the Revolution’s 11-game unbeaten run with a comprehensive 2-0 win. Arena said the “better team won the game” and for the Revolution “to compete with the team like [LAFC], we’ve got to be a little bit better with some of the things we do.”
New England (9-9-6, 33 points, 7th in East) were poor in the attacking third, wasting “a number of opportunities” according to Arena. LAFC dominated in the middle of the field, which made it easy for their sharp passes to eventually cut through the Revs’ defense and create numerous dangerous goal-scoring moments.
“They were a little bit a little quicker, physically, mentally,” Arena said. “I think the pressure that the three central midfielders put on the ball was outstanding.”
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The Revs went behind in the eighth minute as Diego Rossi chipped home what he later said was an attempt to cross the ball.
Chasing down LAFC (16-3-4, 52 points, 1st in West) was never going to be easy but the Revs could not afford to both concede an early goal and be sloppy with the ball in the attacking third. The Revs’ first shot on target was in the 59th minute and their best scoring chance was a promising breakaway in the second half that Teal Bunbury turned into a failed two-on-one opportunity with Gustavo Bou.
Cristian Penilla sprung Bunbury down the left wing, but when Bunbury got the ball on right foot to shoot, he badly missed wide right and likely should have passed to Bou, who was racing toward the back post.
Arena was direct about what Bunbury should have done with the ball.
“I think Bunbury should have laid that ball off to Bou,” he said.
LAFC finished off the Revs with a Barcelona-inspired passing sequence through the attacking third that ultimately left Latif Blessing with an easy finish.
Bunbury said that LAFC’s ability to navigate the attacking third was the difference on the night.
“I think they just had a little bit more composure in the final third,” Bunbury said. “I think we were missing on opportunities, myself included. I think our final pass was off. I think we just didn't handle the ball too well.”