Arena: Bou’s Return Makes Revs “More Dangerous”
The Revs sent more than 36,000 fans home happy last Saturday as they marked the midpoint of the 2023 MLS season with a 3-1 win over Inter Miami CF, snapping a five-game winless run. As they round the corner into the second half of the campaign, New England finds itself sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference. They will defend their undefeated 5-0-3 home record this Saturday night against Orlando City SC.
“Given the circumstances in the first half of this season, it’s been really challenging,” said Arena. “For the guys to pull off 30 points in the first half is pretty good. A little bit inconsistent, but I think that’s due to the weekly changes in our lineup. Overall, we’ve done a good job. We have, I think, the fifth-best record in the league at this point, so hopefully we can be better in the second half of the season.”
One of those key injury losses was forward Gustavo Bou, who missed all of May with an injury to his left calf. The Revs’ 2022 leading scorer jumped back into the starting lineup in the win against Miami and made an immediate impact. In the limited minutes when Bou has been healthy enough to play alongside his favorite attacking partner, Carles Gil, the Revolution have produced goals at a remarkable rate of 2.96 per 90 minutes played.
“They understand each other pretty well,” said Arena. “I think Gustavo got about 65 minutes against Miami, and I thought he looked pretty sharp. We’ve seen it again this week in training and I think he’s a real plus to get back in our lineup. We’re real pleased to have him back on the field and hopefully that means our team is going to be more dangerous in the attack.”
While Bou has been sidelined, New England has enjoyed scoring contributions from an accomplished goal scorer who has officially regained his scoring touch after a season-ending adductor injury in June 2022. The former U.S. Men’s National Team striker, who played much of his career in Germany before returning stateside in 2021, tallied again on Saturday to raise his total to six goals, with three assists, as the season’s halfway mark.
“Bobby has been good. There were times this year when basically all of our forwards were injured. Bobby fought through some injuries in the early part of the season, and then has been really consistent and has done a very good job for us,” Arena said. “He has six goals to date, along with Carles Gil, and I’m really pleased with his contributions.”
Both the Revolution and Orlando will be missing key starters, including each side’s starting goalkeeper, this weekend due to the FIFA international window. With Djordje Petrović on duty with Serbia, enter Earl Edwards Jr. The Revs’ understudy, who has two starts this year in the U.S. Open Cup, is an MLS veteran who posted a 1-2-1 record during the 2022 campaign. His last start at Gillette Stadium was a shutout win in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League.
“I wouldn’t compare Djordje Petrović to a quarterback in football, but he plays a really important role and Earl Edwards Jr. is going to get the nod on Saturday,” Arena remarked. “It’s Earl’s responsibility to step into goal and do a good job, and I’m confident he can do that.”’
The Revolution and Orlando City SC kick off from Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET pm Saturday night. Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV or listen to Brad Feldman and Clyde Simms on 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM).
“They’ve got a good compliment of attacking players,” said Arena. “They’re top four players are really good, so we’ve got to be solid defensively. Against Inter Miami, we were sloppy at times and shouldn’t have conceded a goal. This time around we’ve got to be steadier. I’m confident our guys will be ready to play a real good game on the defensive end of the field.”