CARSON, Calif. – In search of a third win in eight days, the New England Revolution returns to league action this weekend when the resurgent Revs visit Chivas USA on Saturday, April 30.
Kickoff from The Home Depot Center is set for 10:30 p.m. ET, and the match will be televised live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England, while radio listeners can tune into 98.5 The Sports Hub.
After failing to score a single goal in four losses on the West Coast in 2010, the Revs (2-2-3, 9 pts.) are already aiming for their third positive result in the Pacific time zone this season following road draws against the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps. To do so, they’ll have to overcome a Chivas USA (1-2-3, 6 pts.) side which has dominated the head-to-head series in recent meetings.
Current Form: Both sides enter this weekend brimming with confidence
Newcomers Benny Feilhaber and Rajko Lekic have sparked a renewed sense of optimism in New England, as the dynamic duo was instrumental in a character-building 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City last weekend. The victory snapped a brief two-game losing streak and vaulted the Revs into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference, just two points back of the first-place New York Red Bulls.
Despite naming 10 different starters for a midweek U.S. Open Cup play-in match against D.C. United – rookie midfielder Stephen McCarthy was the only player to start both games – the Revs continued to build momentum with another 3-2 win as they advanced in the knockout tournament.
“I think momentum’s the biggest thing and we have it right now,” said Feilhaber. “We all have the confidence that we can take three points tomorrow and obviously that’s the goal.”
Chivas USA’s position near the bottom of the Western Conference standings is a bit deceiving, as Robin Fraser’s side is unbeaten in its last four (1-0-3) after beginning the season with a pair of losses. The Goats became the last team in MLS to claim a victory with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend, and Chivas USA’s resolute defense has now conceded just three goals in its last five games.
Past Meetings: Revs have been shut out in three straight meetings with Chivas USA
Since outscoring Chivas USA by a margin of 8-1 in a trio of wins from 2008-09, the Revs have dropped three straight games to the Goats without managing to score a single goal.
Chivas USA swept the season series in 2010, claiming a 4-0 win at Gillette Stadium on May 5 and a 2-0 victory at The Home Depot Center on Sept. 10. Justin Braun led the charge for CUSA offensively – registering two goals and two assists – while veteran goalkeeper Zach Thornton earned both shutouts.
The Revs are just 1-4-1 in six previous visits to face Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.
Injury Report: Perovic, Phelan out for the Revs; Conrad questionable for Chivas USA
In just his third appearance since returning from a left hamstring strain, Marko Perovic was influential in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, engineering the attack and scoring the opening goal with a long-range drive in the 12th minute. But a left knee sprain forced Perovic off the field in the 60th minute and the injury means the creative Serb will miss Saturday’s meeting with Chivas USA.
“Hopefully he’ll do some training this week,” head coach Steve Nicol said of Perovic. “We’ll wait and see.”
Central midfielder Pat Phelan will also be unavailable for the third straight game. Phelan was suspended for the Revolution’s 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on April 17, and then missed last weekend’s win over Sporting KC with headaches. He’s listed as “Doubtful” on the latest injury report with a concussion and did not make the trip to California.
Chivas USA’s injury list is one of the lengthiest in the league, with contributors Tristan Bowen (L ankle sprain), Blair Gavin (L hamstring strain), Paulo Nagamura (L calf strain) and Michael Lahoud (concussion) all out for this weekend’s match. The injured quartet could be joined on the sidelines by club captain Jimmy Conrad, who is listed as “Questionable” with a concussion.
Key Player: Central midfielder Benny Feilhaber
Last weekend, all eyes were on Feilhaber as he made his MLS debut with a successful 90-minute performance at Gillette Stadium. It was an emotional night for the 26-year-old midfielder – capped off by a comeback win – and the emotions will likely run just as high on Saturday night.
Not only will Feilhaber be playing in front of friends and family who’ll make the short trek from his hometown of Irvine, Calif., but he’ll also be squaring off against the club which had first option to acquire him via the Allocation Process and chose to pass.
“I’m really more excited to be playing in front of my friends and family,” Feilhaber said when asked about the opportunity to face Chivas USA so soon after the Allocation Process. “This is where I’m from, so there are going to be plenty of people that I know in the stands tomorrow all rooting for New England.”
Final Thoughts: Pieces falling into place in New England
Saturday night’s game represents another opportunity for Feilhaber (one assist in one appearance) and Lekic (one goal in two appearances) to continue jelling with their new teammates as they aim to form a cohesive unit. The duo showed glimpses of their ability in last weekend’s victory over Sporting KC and with a week of training under their belts, the comfort level should be that much more evident this weekend.
“The more training you get with the guys, the better it gets,” said Feilhaber. “We’ve had a good week of training, every session’s been good. [Friday’s] session was particularly good. Everybody seems ready for the game and there’s been a big lift from the victory last week. Hopefully we can continue that now this weekend.”