FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution heads to Texas for the second and final time in 2011 this weekend for a showdown with red hot FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park.
Kickoff between the Revs (3-5-4, 13 pts.) and FCD (6-3-4, 22 pts.) is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 4, with Comcast SportsNet New England carrying the television broadcast live in high definition and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s HD2 channel handling the radio call.
Current Form: Streaking FC Dallas carries eight-game unbeaten run into the month of June
The Revs have now dropped back-to-back games by one-goal margins after suffering a frustrating 1-0 loss to the league-leading LA Galaxy last weekend at Gillette Stadium. It was the fifth time the Revolution has been shut out this season but once again the home side created a host of chances, including two shots which were cleared off the line and an additional Zack Schilawski effort which crashed off the underside of the crossbar in a hectic sequence in stoppage time.
“We had three great chances, we just didn’t quite get it done,” head coach Steve Nicol said after the game. “That kind of sums up a lot of the stuff we’re doing. Sometimes we look pretty good, but we just don’t get it done. That’s where we are at the moment.”
Defending Western Conference champion FC Dallas has overcome a slow start to roar into second place in the overall league standings on the strength of an eight-game (5-0-3) unbeaten streak. Highlighting the current undefeated stretch was a remarkable 531-minute shutout streak which included five consecutive clean sheets in the month of May. The Hoops most recently played to a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo last weekend.
Past Meetings: Texas historically a welcome destination for the Revolution
Still searching for their first road win of the season, the Revs will enter Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night with history on their side.
The Revs are 11-5-2 all-time in regular-season road games against FCD, including a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Hoops late last season. Additionally, New England won its first-ever cup championship in Frisco with a 3-2 win over Dallas in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup Final.
The Revolution’s road success has translated to FCD’s intrastate rival Houston, as well, with a combined record of 4-1-1 at the Dynamo’s Robertson Stadium. All told, the Revs are 15-6-3 all-time in regular-season games in the state of Texas.
Injury Report: Dabo set to return as Feilhaber sidelined; Ferreira out long-term for FCD
Benny Feilhaber wasn’t expected to be available for the Revolution’s trip to Pizza Hut Park, but for an entirely different reason. The 26-year-old was scheduled to join up with the U.S. National Team ahead of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and this weekend’s meeting with top-ranked Spain at Gillette Stadium, but a right ankle sprain suffered late against the Galaxy will prevent Feilhaber from playing for the Revs or the U.S. for at least a few weeks.
Ousmane Dabo could potentially step in to replace Feilhaber in central midfield after recovering from a right adductor strain, but the veteran Frenchman’s minutes will be limited should he be ready to go.
“Obviously he’s missed a fair bit of training, so fitness-wise I’m sure he’s not able to go 90 minutes,” Nicol said of Dabo. “But I’m sure we’ll get some time out of him.”
That’s not the only bit of good news for the Revs on the injury front, as central defender Ryan Cochrane appears to have overcome the concussion which forced him out of last weekend’s loss to the Galaxy at halftime. Cochrane was listed as out on Tuesday’s injury report but has since returned to full training.
Dallas will be without the services of 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira – who has been out since suffering a fractured right ankle on April 23 – although the Hoops’ current eight-game unbeaten streak has coincided with his absence. Defender Jackson Goncalves will be unavailable while getting married in Brazil this weekend, while both George John (groin strain) and Maykel Galindo (L plantar fascia strain) are listed as questionable.
Key Player: Revolution central midfielder Shalrie Joseph
Revolution fans received a fantastic bit of news on Tuesday morning when it was revealed that captain Shalrie Joseph had declined Grenada’s invitation to join its 2011 Gold Cup roster and instead will remain with the Revs as they battle for position in the Eastern Conference.
Especially with Feilhaber sidelined by injury, Joseph will be critical not only in the Revolution’s possession game but also in serving as one of the primary creative forces going forward.
“Obviously we’re delighted we’re going to have him,” Nicol said of Joseph. “I think any team in the league wants Shalrie stepping on the field for them, and we’re certainly no different.”
Final Thoughts: Premium placed on possession to mitigate the Texas heat
Temperatures are expected to soar into the upper 90s in the Dallas area this weekend, so fatigue will undoubtedly play a factor for both sides on Saturday night. To minimize the effects of the heat, the Revs will aim to maintain the bulk of possession and subsequently dictate the pace of the game.
“You can’t be chasing,” said Pat Phelan. “It’s important to go out there and make the field as big as you can, do your work off the ball and get in good spots to maintain possession, because if you’re just chasing around, they’ll pick you apart.”