FOXBOROUGH — Lee Nguyen’s return to the Revolution gave the team a boost, as well as a creative point of reference in the midfield, but it was not enough as they played to a 0-0 tie with the New York City FC Saturday
The Revolution (3-3-6, 15 points), who host the Montreal Impact Wednesday, had three goals disallowed for offside in remaining winless at home this season. The Revolution, 0-3-2 at Gillette Stadium since Sept. 29, displayed improvement since their last home game — a 2-0 loss to NYC FC on Sept. 2. But NYC FC (5-5-2, 17 points), which improved its unbeaten streak to six games, was able to frustrate the Revolution despite playing without several starters.
The Revolution’s disallowed scores included two by Gustavo Bou, who often tries to time his runs to beat the offside trap, and one by Tajon Buchanan, who had a close-in shot off a corner.
All the offside goals resulted from combinations involving Nguyen, playing his first home game for the Revolution since 2017. Nguyen last played at Gillette Stadium as a member of Los Angeles FC on Aug. 3, 2019, and had not performed for the Revolution in a home match since a 2-1 win over NYC FC on Oct. 15, 2017.
Other observations from Saturday’s game:
▪Nguyen filled the playmaking role in central midfield the Revolution have been lacking since the loss of Carles Gil (Achilles'). Nguyen played 14 minutes in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union last weekend, and has practiced with the team only five times, but fit in well. “He’s composed on the ball. Obviously, he is a good passer,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “It allows our players to get forward. He’s a good player, good experienced player. He allows us to have a little bit of a rhythm in the attack.”
Nguyen was also able to go strong until being replaced by Adam Buksa in the 89th minute. “I felt better than what we expected going into it so it was good to get those minutes underneath me,” Nguyen said. “It was great to play with the guys again, lots of familiar faces so it wasn’t too bad picking up right where I left off. We got a lot of great guys on this team and when you’ve got great footballers around you it’s easy to play.”
Nguyen has not played in a losing game (8-0-2) in Foxborough since July 5, 2017.
“It was great to be back, I just wish obviously I was able to be back in front of the fans,” Nguyen said. “That’s the best part about playing football here, being at Gillette Stadium and playing in front of the fans and in front of The Fort. It was a little sucky not to have our fans there supporting us but we know they’re out there watching us and supporting from afar. I just wish we could have gotten the 3 points.”
It should be noted NYC FC lost Maxi Moralez to injury, and has not been using former Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem, but was able to play a coherent possession game.
▪Buksa and Cristian Penilla entered the match late, adding a spark to the offense. But Buksa and Penilla are among the team’s highest-paid players and likely should be starting. Both Buksa and Penilla seem in tune with Bou.
“Well, obviously we wanted to get Lee on the field and play with a single striker,” Arena said. “We felt that Gustavo was the best choice to place up there, with the team we had.”
Arena moving Penilla away from his favored left wing position has not paid off. Penilla totaled 18 goals and 15 assists in his first two Revolution seasons, but has not scored in 12 games this season.
▪The Revolution, who have scored only twice in five home games, extended their Gillette scoreless streak to 229 minutes over two-plus games. But they produced several chances. Sean Johnson saved twice on Teal Bunbury, but Buchanan sent the rebound off target (13th) and Bou converted a rebound from an offside position (19th). On the right wing, Buchanan had free headers easily saved (25th, 48th) and Penilla had a late shot knocked away for a corner. Buchanan, Brandon Bye, and Penilla went down in the penalty area in the second half, but referee Ramy Touchan allowed play to continue. Bou appeared to have a goal lined up before Keaton Parks made a sliding block (39th), and he also drilled an injury-time shot to the near post, substitute Kekuta Manneh sending the rebound high. Bou drew the defense as he dummied a Bye cross, but NYC FC cleared in front of an open goal (57th). Again, Buksa and Penilla would be good candidates to cash in on these opportunities.
▪This could have been a breakout game for Buchanan, making his second start. Buchanan sent two headers directly at Johnson, but did not threaten enough on the right wing to unbalance NYC FC’s defense. Opposing teams are concentrating on stopping Alexander Buttner’s advances on the left, and so far have not felt the need to double-team on the other side, leaving Buchanan free most of the time.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.