New England Soccer Today

Good Investments

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

HARRISON, N.J. – Credit this one to the front office.

Two acquisitions – one during the preseason, the other late in the season – linked up twice to lead the Revolution to a 2-1 win over New York in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Finals.

Jermaine Jones assisted on Teal Bunbury’s opening goal and Bunbury returned the favor, setting up Jones in the final minutes for the winner.

With all of the success the Revolution have had in the MLS SuperDraft in recent years, trading away their 2015 first round pick in February might have raised some eyebrows.

But no one can question that move now. Not with what Bunbury has done – and continues to do.

And for Jones, maybe there was a bit of luck with the blind draw by the league, but the front office did their part to have the Revolution involved in it.

Bunbury’s goal in the 17th minute was his fourth-career playoff goal and his second in as many games.

Jones’ goal in the 85th minute was his first ever MLS playoff goal.

It wasn’t the first helper for either as Bunbury now has eight assists this season, two coming in the playoffs. Jones picked his sixth helper of the year, also his second of the playoffs.

“Goal and assist was pretty good from Teal,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “I think Teal’s been great.”

Bunbury played in his usual spot out wide on the right side and, with Roy Miller out due to suspension, was matched up with New York’s Ambroise Oyongo, who played in 13 regular season games.

“It didn’t matter to us,” Heaps said of the suspension. “We saw the suspension but we knew Oyongo has a lot of pace and Teal has a lot of pace so it was going to be a track meet. But I thought Teal showed not just pace but you saw the move to get open to get on the goal and I thought that’s Teal Bunbury. I think he’s been excellent for us.”

The move Heaps is referring to is Bunbury’s signature move. In the 17th minute, Lee Nguyen found Jones, who dribbled towards the touchline with Dax McCarty right on him. He laid it off to Bunbury, making an overlapping run to leave Bunbury one on one with Oyongo. Bunbury stepped over with his right, took the touch his his left, took one more tough closer to the center of the field and uncorked a laser shot into the far post’s side netting.

“I had a good feeling it was going in,” Bunbury said, who admitted he had never scored a goal with his left foot like that and also said it was the biggest goal of his professional career.

Bunbury said players are always working on improving things at training but did say he had been working on his left foot.

“I wanted to get matched up with him and I was fortunate to get matched up one on one,” Bunbury added. “My left foot isn’t my strong foot but I feel like I took it well. I’m just very happy with the result we got. It was a crazy, hectic game for everybody. It was like a track meet back and forth but our guys stayed concentrated. We maybe didn’t have all the possession in the world but we were able to come out and get a result. We’re very happy with the result but we’re not satisfied yet. We’ve got another big game coming up next Saturday. We’re going to enjoy this feeling but definitely get prepared for next game.”

Jones got the attention of plenty of New York’s players – fouled a game-high seven times – but was able to keep his composure to play the entire 90-plus minutes. Jones picked up a yellow card in the 26th minute.

“Jermaine is a competitor first and foremost,” Heaps said, admitting he was nervous either Jones or another player would get ejected. “I think that’s what you sense and then the class on top of that. He wants it and that shows. If he wants it, the guy next to him better want it because he’s a leader with how he plays.”

It proved key that Jones was on the pitch for the entire game, scoring the game winner with just five minutes left before stoppage time.

Nguyen picked up the ball at midfield and quickly paced forward, heading the Revolution’s counter attack. Jones trailed near Nguyen up the middle but rookie Patrick Mullins spread out wide left while Bunbury pushed out wide right, spreading New York’s defense. Nguyen elected to hit Bunbury with a pass to the right, where the 24-year-old took a touch forward and slid the ball past a oncoming Luis Robles and onto the feet of a wide-open Jones – who continued his run through the defense – and he buried the game-winner from inside the six-yard line.

“I want to win,” Jones said. “This is the point. I think it was a good counter and I saw Lee – he’s a guy who is really good with deep balls – and I tried to come behind the line, but they closed it really good. I still kept going. I didn’t score the two chances I had before, so I was still hungry to score a goal and Teal saw me. I don’t know if he wanted to shoot or he passed, but end of the story a good goal and we’re happy to win.”

Now and the Revolution return to Foxboro with the upper hand heading in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“It’s huge for us,” Bunbury said. “To be able to score two goals on the road, it’s very crucial. But we know New York is an unbelievable team and they have a lot of great players and they can make things happen at the drop of a hat and we have to be prepared for that.”

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