It was not easy and was not decided until the dying seconds, but the Revolution finally ended a six-year postseason hex.
Forward Gustavo Bou took a cross from DeJuan Jones at the top of penalty area and fired an arrow inside the left post in the fifth minute of stoppage time to lift the Revs to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact on Friday night at Gillette Stadium. It is their first victory in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2014.
Revs coach Bruce Arena set an MLS record with his 51st playoff appearance, surpassing the late Sigi Schmid, and extended his league record for wins with 33.
Arena had his three designated players — Adam Buksa, Carles Gil and Bou — in the starting lineup for the second straight game as the Gil and Bou each lost significant parts of the regular season to injuries.
“We are building a team and I think this is another step in that progression,” said Arena. “Qualifying for the playoffs the past two years was a positive and now to win a game is a positive.
“This was a very big win for our program as we continue to build it.”
The Revolution advance to the first round in the Eastern Conference and will play at either top seed Philadelphia, winners of the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the most regular season points, or second seed Toronto FC on Tuesday.
The Revs’ destination will be determined by the outcome of late Friday night match between Miami FC and Nashville at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. If Nashville wins, the Revs play at Philly. If Miami prevails, the Revs play Toronto at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, where TFC has set up because the U.S.-Canada border is closed. Arena believes his club with be ready because they have grown accustomed to short turnarounds with their unbalanced schedule.
“This is what we’ve been doing the entire year and it’s a rhythm everyone is used to,” said Arena. “We know the rhythm and the recovery and all of that and how you prepare for the next game.”
The Revs led 1-0 at halftime and that led to overconfidence and complacency after the break and it didn’t take long for that to add up to a tie game.
Montreal had a free kick that was lofted into the crowd of bodies mulling around in the scoring area. Midfielder Romell Quioto skied over the field and headed the ball past Revs keeper Matt Turner to make it 1-1 in the 61st minute with his ninth goal of the season.
The Revs regrouped and took the play into the Montreal end and had several scoring opportunities, the best of which was an open look by leading scorer Teal Bunbury that sailed over the crossbar in the 76th minute.
Bou failed to finish a breakaway in the box on a sliding kick in the 86th minute. A header by Buksa hit the far post in the 91st minute.
“I think we played well and we created some good chances and maybe had the chance to be ahead by two goals but weren’t successful there,” said Arena. “We had to battle all the way and I’m pleased to get our second goal in regulation time.”
Revs keeper Matt Turner, the Revolution’s player of the year, was tested in the third minute when Impact midfielder Bojan Krkic intercepted a clearance at the top of the box. Krkic wheeled and fired a shot that Turner caught just under the crossbar.
Gil opened the scoring with his first postseason goal at the end of a sweet feed by Bou in the 38th minute. Bou lofted the ball into the penalty area as Gil was crashing the box from the left flank. Gil caught the ball on his left foot and fired the ball by Clement Diop and inside the far post.