After the New England Revolution fielded three Designated Players in a starting XI for the first time in club history in a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on July 9, striker Adam Buksa wants you to know this much:
It was only the start.
Bruce Arena's Revs drew praise as one of the early bright spots of the MLS is Back Tournament for their performance in the Group C opener, where they might've won by a more comfortable margin with better finishing.
Buksa agrees it was a good start, but also thinks that he, Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil will have plenty more to offer going forward, beginning in their second group game on Friday night against D.C. United (8 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN in Canada).
"It was definitely a good experience," Buksa said. "We waited a long time for this. In the preseason, Carles got a little bit injured, he was out for the first two games, and as I said before we miss him because he’s a great player. I think we can bring tremendous value to the team. But we still have to improve in certain moments. We didn’t show our best in this game."
Buksa was last of the three to arrive to New England as a signing this offseason. His first two MLS appearances came before the regular season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when Gil was out with a foot injury.
But after their first game together, they'll almost certainly play a second on Friday, with a rare eight days' rest between group matches. Then the turnaround is tighter for the Group C finale against Toronto.
"I would’ve liked it to be a little bit shorter," said Revs coach Bruce Arena. "But we have no complaints. We’ll be rested and prepared for Friday. And then we need to take some inventory Friday night after the game and see where we’re positioned after group play."
In D.C., the Revs face a side that was able to pull off a remarkable late comeback, a fate New England escaped partly because of Matt Turner's exceptional save ftom Ballou Tabla deep in second-half stoppage time. It's also a team that is good off dead-ball situations with aerial threats Frederic Brillant and Steve Birnbaum, and a veteran-laden group that can exploit lapses in concentration.
"D.C. United has gotten goals out of attacking restarts, so that’s one of their strengths," Arena said. "They’re a physically big team, especially with their center backs in Brillant and Birnbaum ... . They have good size and that’s something we need to be concerned about. And their goalkeeper is outstanding in Bill Hamid. I think with them getting one point out of the game, they know they need to get a result against us on Friday, so they’re going to be well prepared."
As for what the Revs can produce going forward? Let's just say after playing one game with Gil providing service, Buksa is excited for another.
"He is an outstanding player," Buksa said. "I don’t think I have to add anything to it because we’ve all seen it."