After a near-perfect debut from Gustavo Bou that included the match-winning goal, the surging New England Revolution look to run their unbeaten streak in league play to 10 matches Sunday when they attempt to avenge a loss to FC Cincinnati.
During an awful start that eventually cost coach Brad Friedel and general manager Mike Burns their jobs, the Revolution (7-8-6) were actually six points behind the MLS debutantes after a 2-0 loss to the Royals on March 24. Bruce Arena would not come on board until nearly two months later to as coach and director of operations, but since his arrival in mid-May, New England has gone from league laughingstock to playoff contender.
That upward trajectory continued with a 4-0 victory over Vancouver on Wednesday night, giving the Revs five wins without a loss in their last nine matches. The scoreline flatters to deceive to a degree, as New England scored three times in the final nine minutes, but Arena's side thoroughly dominated the proceedings as the Revs outshot the Whitecaps 33-6 and had 12 shots on target without allowing one.
"Obviously, really pleased with the group," Arena told the Boston Globe. "There were certainly some good moments. A little sloppy, inconsistent, we conceded some chances in the second half. As the game went on we created some good chances and, certainly, the last 10-15 minutes was all ours. Our team is learning how to play together."
Bou, a $12 million Designated Player signing from Liga MX side Tijuana earlier this month, announced his presence with a sumptuous 18-yard volley off a corner kick from Carles Gil in first-half stoppage time to snap a scoreless deadlock. The pair appeared to have an easy chemistry on the pitch, something Arena hopes to further build as the Revs continue their push for a top-seven spot in the East.
"They looked like they have a good understanding," the former U.S. national coach noted. "We saw it in training. It's going to take some time. I think in another month we'll know a lot more about that combination."
FC Cincinnati (5-14-2) has a chance to complete its first double over an MLS side in its debut season. The Royals were denied their first three-match league winning streak Thursday, losing 4-1 at home to D.C. United, and the result kept them one point behind the Columbus Crew at the foot of the Eastern Conference standings.
Emmanuel Ledesma provided a glimmer of hope for at least one point in the 54th minute with a penalty that tied the match, but FC Cincinnati conceded the go-ahead goal five minutes later and came further undone with two more goals nine minutes apart.
Getting ahead of teams has proven problematic for the first-year side, which fell to 0-12-1 when conceding first.
"It's hard to lose this way at home because we had that feeling we could win," Kendall Watson told the team's official website, referring to the momentum swing after drawing level. "We have to keep our faith going into Sunday and have things go our way. There's not many days to look for revenge and take away this bad feeling."
FCC coach Yoann Damet is hoping recent signing and center back Maikel van der Werff will be available for selection. The club is waiting on the league to process the paperwork on the former Vitesse player.
Kekuta Manneh and Kenny Saief scored on either side of halftime in the March win for the Royals, with the pair also serving as playmakers on the other's goal.