Gustavo Bou’s goal five minutes into second-half stoppage time gave the New England Revolution a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact in an MLS Cup playoff play-in match on Friday in Foxborough, Mass.
The eighth-seeded Revolution advance to play either the top-seeded Philadelphia Union or second-seeded Toronto FC on Tuesday.
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New England threatened throughout the closing minutes, yet off-target shots and some big saves from Montreal goalkeeper Clement Diop seemed to set the path for overtime.
In the 95th minute of play, however, Bou was open for a big right-footed shot from just outside the box that found its way into the net. Bou had gone scoreless in New England’s last nine regular-season games.
Carles Gil’s first goal of 2020 gave the Revs the lead in the 38th minute, as Bou chipped a pass into the box that found Gil for the conversion. After scoring 10 goals in his debut season with New England in 2019, Gil was hampered by injuries this season and went scoreless in six regular-season contests.
Tajon Buchanan’s presence on the wings was a big part of the Revolution’s attack, but Buchanan left the game with an apparent leg injury in the 50th minute. Between Buchanan’s departure and three Impact substitutions in the first 12 minutes of the second half, ninth-seeded Montreal suddenly found the momentum for the equalizer.
In the 61st minute, forward Romell Quioto’s well-placed header drew the Impact level. It was Quioto’s first career MLS postseason goal after he led the Impact with eight goals in the regular season.
That set the stage for a tense finale, as both teams threatened prior to Bou’s final strike. New England’s Matt Polster nearly scored an own goal in the 91st minute, and Diop made a big save on an Adam Buksa header a minute later.
For Montreal, under the first-year tutelage of World Cup winner Thierry Henry, the loss caps off a season where the Canadian side had to play the latter part in the U.S. due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
“Personally, I have nothing bad to say about the desire of my team tonight. I’m proud of them and of the season they had on the emotional level with everything they had to go through. They fought until the end,” Henry said after the match.
The ex-Arsenal and Barcelona great added: “Allowing a goal like that in the last second of the game hurts. It could have happened before with New England having a few chances. We have to congratulate New England for what they did.”
The Revolution recorded their first playoff victory since the 2014 season while New England manager Bruce Arena recorded his 33 career playoff win, the most of any coach in MLS history.
“I thought both teams played extremely hard. Give Montreal credit. They battled for 95 minutes. We scored, I think, two outstanding goals. And it’s nice to get both Carles and Gustavo back on the field together. I just think we played well,” the ex-DC United and LA Galaxy boss added.
On Bou’s goal, Arena said: “I don’t think we’re anticipating that he’s going to get them all the time in the 95th minute, but that’s what Gustavo does. He’s a goal scorer. He’s a good player, but his DNA is scoring goals. It’s great to see that he got one tonight. I think that’s going to help his confidence because it’s probably been awhile since he’s scored a goal. I think that was a great goal for him and certainly a great win for our team.”