Playoff chase hits the road as Revs prepare to visit first-place Red Bulls
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s chase for the playoffs continues on Saturday night with a highly-anticipated visit to Red Bull Arena and the first-place New York Red Bulls.
The Revs (11-11-8, 41 pts.) begin October one point back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Red Bulls (15-9-7, 52 pts.) – currently on top of the Supporters’ Shield standings – can clinch a postseason place with a draw this weekend.
Both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s HD2 channel will have regional coverage beginning at 7 p.m.
Current Form: Revs look to climb back above the red line; Red Bulls aim to clinch
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo, combined with other results around the East, dropped the Revolution marginally out of the playoff places with four games remaining. Although the result was far from ideal, head coach Jay Heaps was pleased with his team’s tenacity against Houston and believes the intensity of that match will prove a beneficial learning experience ahead of a high-pressure October.
“Houston’s the best at making your life miserable when you’re trying to settle a game down,” he said. “We really made one mistake and it cost us two points. So we learn from that, but the environment itself was a playoff atmosphere and that’s a good test.”
The Red Bulls also played to a 1-1 draw last weekend, traveling to CenturyLink Field and claiming a point off Seattle Sounders FC without the services of Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave. Although the draw did snap New York’s four-game winning streak, Mike Petke’s side remains one of MLS’ most in-form teams at the moment.
Past Meetings: Upon fifth visit, Revs looking to snap Red Bull Arena hex
Four previous visits to Red Bull Arena have yielded zero points for the Revolution, which has suffered four losses at the venue since it opened in 2010. That includes a 4-1 setback on April 20 of this season, when the Revs found themselves trailing 2-1 after only eight minutes.
It’s been a different story at Gillette Stadium, however, where New England hasn’t lost to New York in more than 11 years, spanning 17 regular-season meetings (11-0-6). Most recently the Revs extended that run with a 1-1 draw on May 11, when Diego Fagundez and Lloyd Sam traded goals early in the second half.
Injury Report: Agudelo says he’s “100 percent healthy,” eager to face former club
Juan Agudelo provided a spark off the bench in last weekend’s draw with Houston, playing the final 28 minutes as he made his return from a nagging hamstring injury. The New Jersey-bred forward – who was the Red Bulls’ second-ever Homegrown signing back in 2010 – is now pushing for a return to the starting lineup as he prepares to face his former club for the first time in league play.
“I feel like I’m fit,” Agudelo told the media on Wednesday. “I would like to play 90 (minutes) against them.”
New York’s most recent injury report lists five players as out for this weekend’s clash, including defenders Connor Lade (R knee), Roy Miller (L Achilles) and Heath Pearce (hip surgery).
Final Thoughts: Total team effort required down the stretch
“Our backs are up against the wall,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis, who can become the second player in Revolution history to make 250 starts for the club on Saturday. “We’re on the outside looking into the playoffs and we know we have to get victories. We need the max points; we need three points. This is a tough game on the road, but we’ve won down in New York before and we have to make sure that we’re all together and try and pull it off again.”