Preview: After crucial win, revitalized Revs return to the road to face New York
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The impact of Wednesday night’s slump-busting victory over the Colorado Rapids has been described in a variety of different ways. Some said it helped the New England Revolution “get over the hump.” Others said it helped the Revs “get out of a rut” or “out of a hole.”
Regardless, what’s important now is that the Revs keep climbing.
They’ll look to do so on Saturday night when the Revs (8-11-2, 26 pts.) make their only visit of the season to Red Bull Arena, where they’ll battle the New York Red Bulls (5-6-10, 25 pts.) in an Eastern Conference clash.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub covering the game.
Current Form: Revs say sayonara to eight-game skid; Red Bulls coming off midweek draw
Lee Nguyen had a hand in all three Revolution goals – scoring twice before assisting on Kelyn Rowe’s capper – to guide New England to an emphatic 3-0 win over the Rapids on Wednesday night in Foxborough.
It was New England’s first multi-goal performance since the club’s last win – a 2-1 triumph over D.C. United on May 24 – but perhaps more importantly it was the Revolution’s first shutout since the 5-0 romp over Seattle Sounders FC on May 11. According to head coach Jay Heaps, everyone on the field pitched in defensively to help the Revs keep a much-needed clean sheet and snap their eight-game losing streak.
“I thought defensively it was a complete performance – from Charlie (Davies) initiating the contact, to our wingers, to our midfield, we really got a lot of good pressure on the ball,” Heaps said. “Even down to Bobby (Shuttleworth); Bobby had to make a save at 1-0 and I think that’s important when every player contributes to a win. It really is a good way to take that step forward.”
New York also played midweek, traveling to Utah for a Wednesday night meeting with Real Salt Lake. Tim Cahill played provider to set up Thierry Henry’s second-half equalizer as the Red Bulls earned a draw, their fourth such result in their past six league matches.
Cahill and Henry earn many of the headlines at Red Bull Arena, but it’s been the less-heralded Bradley Wright-Phillips who’s led the line in stunning fashion this season. While Henry tops the league in assists (10), Wright-Phillips is currently the MLS leading scorer with 17 goals in just 20 appearances.
“When you’re a defender, you want to defend and you like the challenge. What better challenge than New York?” asked Kevin Alston. “They’ve got a good team and they’ve got some great weapons. They’ve got Wright-Phillips up top doing well, scoring a lot of goals. We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to try and stop him.”
Past Meetings: Cahill’s late, late equalizer leaves Revs still in search of first win at RBA
Late goals from Nguyen and Diego Fagundez had the Revs on course for their first-ever win at Red Bull Arena on their most recent trip to New Jersey last October, but some controversial refereeing and Cahill’s equalizer in the seventh minute of stoppage time meant the Revs had to settle for their first point at RBA instead.
That result kept the Revs winless on the road against New York since 2007, while New England has just one win over the Red Bulls in the past 10 regular-season meetings (1-5-4) dating back to the 2010 campaign.
These sides have already met once this season as the Red Bulls rode goals from Eric Alexander and Peguy Luyindula to a 2-0 win over the Revs on June 8 at Gillette Stadium.
Injury Report: Alston steps up with Tierney injured; Joseph upgraded to questionable
Alston will likely earn a second straight start at left back on Saturday night after stepping in for the injured Chris Tierney (L MCL sprain) midweek, helping the Revs shut down a potent Rapids attack.
It was Alston’s first league appearance since May 3 (when a hamstring injury forced him off in the first half) and after going 90 minutes against Colorado, he’s confident he’ll be ready should he be called upon again.
“It’s tough when you can’t really work your way in there; you kind of just have to come in and be ready from the start,” Alston said. “I think that’s why I try to do as much fitness as I can outside of the game during practice, because it’s kind of zero to 90 minutes and it’s real quick. You just have to be ready for that moment.”
Both Tierney and Andy Dorman (R MCL sprain) remain sidelined by their respective knee injuries, but Shalrie Joseph (L calf strain) is making strides toward a return as his status was upgraded to questionable.
While the Red Bulls were shorthanded for the season’s first meeting back in early June, that won’t be the case this time around. New York head coach Mike Petke should have his entire roster at his disposal this weekend as the Red Bulls have zero players listed on the injury report and no one missing because of suspension.
Final Thoughts: Heaps hopes Revs use recent experiences to build character
“It’s a character-building time,” Heaps said of the now-defunct losing streak. “We’re a young team and I don’t think everyone realizes how young we are. Some teams have big-time international players and we don’t. We have players that have to rely on each other.
“They’re confident, but the confidence can be shaken on a younger player and when you’re starting a group of guys in their early 20s – and even a teenager – you’re going to hit rough patches. Obviously the rough patch we hit was a lot worse than we ever expect, but the character to get through that and to continue to fight forward is what we need to see and where we’re going.”