Playing before a live audience of about 8,000 for the first time since March 2020, the Revolution vigorously protected the house in their home opener with a 1-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
“I enjoyed the way the stadium was set up and there was great distribution with the fans,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “They made a lot noise and it was great to see. I know our players were excited to have the people in the stands. We give a lot of credit to our fans and it was a great night for us to get three points.”
Arena made three alterations to the starting lineup he put on the field in the Revs 2-2 draw in Chicago on April 17. Arena shelved Tajon Buchanan and Tommy McNamara and needed a replacement left back DeJuan Jones, who drew a red card in the match.
Arena inserted three of his off-season international acquisitions Arnor Traustason (midfield), Wilfrid Kaptoum (midfield) and Christian Mafla at left back. Traustason and Mafla were making their MLS debuts while Kaptoum came on as a substitute in the opener.
“I thought they all did well and we are bringing them along slowly,” said Arena. “They need to get fitter as we continue to grow into the season and they will and Arnor showed well considering he has been here a week.”
The Revolution (1-0-1) broke the scoreless deadlock in the 48th minute on a play that combined skill and luck. Brandon Bye has turned his accurate crossings into an offensive threat and he put it in play on at the end of a hard dash down the right flank. Bye launched his cross into the penalty area and it was inadvertently kicked into the goal by D.C United defender Brendan Hines-Ike, who was credited with an own goal.
“That is pretty typical of what we expect out of Brandon,” said Arena. “We always tell our guys that’s a dangerous area in front of the goal and whenever you do that you put your opponents under a lot of pressure.”
The Revolution had a pair of follow-up bids by Carles Gil in the 55th minute and Adam Buksa in the 58th minute, but their shots were off target. Arena took on a defensive posture when he substituted Kaptoum for stabilizing veteran Tommy McNamara in the 63rd minute.
Revolution defender Andrew Farrell nearly scored an own goal in the 68th minute when his slide to block a cross bounced off the near post.
The Revolution bench was irate with referee Guido Gonzales Jr. for late uncalled fouls against Henry Kessler and Buksa. D.C. United (1-1-0) turned up the heat on keeper Matt Turner in the final minutes and stoppage time but he preserved his clean sheet. There were a combined 39 fouls called and seven yellow cards issued in the game.
“It was just a battle, a real scrape and I don’t think the referee had a good feel for the game,” said Arena.
The chippy tone of the game was established in the opening minutes of the contest. Play was halted when Bye was involved in a violent collision with United’s Joseph Toro in the third minute. Toro stayed to the ground several minutes holding his shoulder but stayed in the game.
The Revolution made a deep probe into D.C. United’s penalty area in the 16th minute. Buksa’s bid was under cut at the top of the box and Gil’s loft was intercepted by D.C. United goalkeeper Chris Sietz. New England got a free kick in the 30th minute but Gustavo Bou’s shot went straight at Sietz.
D.C. United created several chances off a corner kick in the 40th minute but failed to manage a shot on target. D.C. United controlled play in the final minutes but the half ended in a scoreless tie.