The New England beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in front of 18,296 fans on a warm and sunny evening at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
These two sides met in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, and if the early months of the season are any indication, they will meet again in November.
The Red Bulls came into the game, still unbeaten on the season, while New England were undefeated in their last 14 games at home in all competitions.
Last season the Red Bulls swept the regular season series, winning at Gillette for the first time since 2002. But New England won the playoff series as Jay Heaps outcoached then Red Bulls coach Mike Pelke.
But Red Bulls have a new coach in Jesse Marsch and both managers made interesting choices with their lineups. Heaps put midfielder Lee Nguyen on the bench. Meanwhile Marsch had MLS’s top striker last season Bradley Wright-Phillips watching from the sidelines alongside Lloyd Sam and Roy Miller as he rotated his side after a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in midweek.
With all the changes it was a disjointed effort from New York early in the first half and New England took advantage to grab 1-0 lead when Charlie Davies got on the end of a great London Woodberry cross to score his third goal of the season.
Heaps started with Jermain Jones at center half with Andy Dorman and Scott Caldwell in holding roles with Teal Bunbury, Kelyn Rowe and Juan Agudelo ahead of them.
When Jones plays alongside Caldwell in midfield he provides that link between the defence and attack. When Dorman and Caldwell play together there is no linkup with the attacking four, especially Rowe and as a result he was isolated and ineffective all game.
So it was not a surprise to see Rowe replaced 10 minutes in the second half by Lee Nguyen and the Revs made an immediate impact assisting on Bunbury’s goal in the 60th minute to make it 2-0.
While Sacha Kljestan got one back for the Red Bulls in the 73rd minute, New England always looked the team most likely to get the next goal.
Overall it was an impressive New England win that runs their unbeaten streak to seven games. I am not a fan of playing two holding midfielder players at home, but Jay Heaps has found a formation and system that suites his personnel. Two months into the season New England is living up to its preseason hype of being a MLS Cup contender.
Next up for New England is a trip to Florida to meet the expansion Orlando City SC and Kaka next weekend. On currently form, anything less than three points will be a disappointment for Revs fans.
What did you think of the New England performance and win tonight?