“We’re not where we need to be, but we’re making progress.” That is a quote from Bruce Arena following the New England Revolution’s win over D.C. United. There is a lot of truth in this with the side showing a lot of signs of promise. Spaniard Carles Gil netted the only goal of the game at Gillette Stadium against the side bringing up the rear in the Shield standings. Meanwhile, homegrown talent Noel Buck made his debut for the first team.
Noel Buck Debuts and Carles Gil Scores Versus D.C.
A Matchday Squad Missing Several Key Figures
There were a pair of debuts handed to Noel Buck and Christian Makoun but these came from the bench. It was somewhat of a new-look squad across the board due to various injuries.
Seth Macomber reported on this the day before the game, as follows. “Sources say that Gustavo Bou, Dylan Borrero, and Giacomo Vrioni will miss tomorrow’s game against D.C. United. Matt Polster was not recently seen at training.”
As a result, there were two changes made to the starting XI that won in Orlando last week. Maciel and Polster made way, neither of them being in the squad at all. In their places were Emmanuel Boateng and Tico Rivera, the pair starting alongside Justin Rennicks and putting in solid shifts.
Bruce Arena highlighted the supposed lack of options in regards to the end result: “Given the situation we have with a number of players out, getting three points is a real positive.”
Tonight's starting XI 💪 pic.twitter.com/muqQ5md9gx
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) August 13, 2022
On the flip side, D.C. United made a few changes and had a debutant of their own. Icelandic midfielder Victor Palsson is the man in question. Over a decade ago, he was a player for both Liverpool and the New York Red Bulls. He joined from Bundesliga outfit Schalke and was thrust into action this weekend.
Talking of the Red Bulls and Wayne Rooney made three alterations from the side that drew 0-0 with Gerhard Struber’s men at Audi Field. Brad Smith, Sofiane Djeffal, and teenager Jackson Hopkins were the trio to drop out. Palsson was one of those to enter the fray, as did legendary striker Ola Kamara and Sami Guediri.
Arena spoke highly of the opposition too, “I give D.C. United credit. I thought they played pretty well.”
— Kari Heistad (@TravelingCEO) August 14, 2022
New England’s Defence Holds Strong Once Again
Noel Buck taking headlines for his debut is deserved but Djordje Petrovic continues to star in between the sticks. Bridging the gap post-Matt Turner was a big worry for a lot involved with the Revolution yet the young Serb is continuing to exceed expectations.
Centre-back Andrew Farrell is certainly a fan of the new man. “Djordje’s [Petrovic] been immense since he’s gotten his minutes. He’s making saves that help us stay in games and keep the clean sheets.”
The first man to call him into action was Ravel Morrison. Jamaican international Morrison was with Rooney at Derby County and is a great addition for D.C. United. Petrovic is a big, imposing figure and he sprung away to his right to deny the former Manchester United man. Rennicks then came close with a cheeky flick after some excellent workout-wide from Boateng.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) August 14, 2022
Tommy McNamara, Brandon Bye and Carles Gil were a formidable trio for the goal that made all the difference. McNamara played it over the top for the fullback to run onto and Bye then picked out his captain in space. The reigning MLS MVP did the rest, firing the ball low and hard beyond the reaches of Rafael Romo.
The Revs came close to doubling their lead a few times. Gil had the best chance, he rounded Romo but was kept out by the post at an acute angle. The man to play him through in this instance was Noel Buck on his Revolution debut. It was a great ball with the outside of his boot and he wasn’t far from notching the first assist.
DeJuan Jones’ energy created the other close call but Wilfrid Kaptoum was denied by the D.C. shot-stopper. His coach spoke very highly of the fullback: “I thought DeJuan [Jones] played very well on the other side of the field.”
The First of Many Appearances for Noel Buck
Christian Makoun entered the fray with just over ten minutes left, replacing Rennicks as Arena moved to a more defensive system. Meanwhile, Noel Buck was sent on to replace another academy product Tico Rivera. Buck said simply that “It was great coming on for him.” He also went on to say, about the whole occasion, that “It’s a dream come true.”
“This is the first time we’ve won back-to-back games [this season]? I didn’t know that. That’s nice” were the words of Arena in the post-match press conference. As well as this, the side haven’t conceded in the last four goals. The first two of them were draws but with the scoring touch in the ranks again, these are six big points.
Noel Buck was very mature in his outlook on this momentous occasion for him. “Tonight, I can enjoy it, enjoy that I made my debut and I played well. But overall, it’s on to the next and it doesn’t mean anything if I can’t keep doing it.”
It will be fascinating to see if he features in mid-week when the Revs travel to Toronto.