FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With 10 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the New England Revolution looks to get back in the win column for the first time since July 20 when the club hosts the Eastern Conference rival Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at Gillette Stadium.
The Revs (4-11-9, 21 pts.) and Dynamo (7-7-10, 31 pts.) will kick off at 8 p.m. and the game will be televised live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England, while the radio call will be available on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs slip to eighth in East as Dynamo climbs into a tie for third
Benny Feilhaber’s second goal of the season gave the Revolution a halftime lead last weekend in Columbus, but a second-half surge from the Crew lifted the home side to a 3-1 victory and sent the Revs to their second straight loss. New England currently occupies eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, nine points back of the final wildcard playoff spot.
Particularly troublesome for the Revs has been their recent home form. One of just three teams in the league with a losing home record (3-4-4), the Revolution is 0-3-2 in its last five regular-season games at Gillette Stadium and hasn’t won in Foxborough since a 1-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 14.
“I think there are some things that we’ve been doing better on the road than at home, to be completely honest,” said Feilhaber, who has scored both of his goals away from home. “I think for the most part on the road in the first 45 minutes we’ve been pretty good in keeping the other team off the board, not giving them too many chances and limiting them in their offensive third.”
Ironically, the Dynamo has been stellar at home (7-3-3) but has struggled on the road (0-4-7), as Houston is one of just three teams in the league without a win away from home this season. Dominic Kinnear’s side has picked up seven points from a possible nine in its last three games, however, and has ridden its success at Robertson Stadium into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference.
Past Meetings: Hunter Freeman’s late goal lifted Dynamo to victory on April 17
While the Revs hold a distinct advantage in the all-time regular-season series with the Dynamo – New England is 6-2-3 in 11 previous meetings with Houston – it was the Texas-based club which claimed a 1-0 win in the campaign’s first meeting back on April 17 at Robertson Stadium. Hunter Freeman bundled the ball over the line to conclude a bizarre sequence in the 86th minute as the Dynamo earned its first-ever home win over the Revs.
Carrying that victory into Gillette Stadium, Houston has a chance to win the season series with New England for the first time in club history with a win or draw on Wednesday night. The teams split the series in 2006 and 2009, while the Revs held the upper hand in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Injury Report: Lekic inching closer to return; Dynamo missing duo
Rajko Lekic will miss his third straight game as the fractured big toe on his right foot will keep him out again on Wednesday night, but the Revs are hopeful the Danish striker will recover in time for Saturday night’s meeting with the New York Red Bulls.
“We’re hopeful for the weekend for him,” head coach Steve Nicol said of Lekic. “We’re not 100 percent sure. We’ll see when he trains. He’s been off [his foot] for almost three weeks, so we’ll see.”
Also out against the Dynamo will be central defender Franco Coria (L MCL sprain) and outside midfielder Sainey Nyassi (R MCL sprain), both of whom missed last weekend’s trip to Columbus.
The Dynamo is one of the league’s healthier teams with only two players listed on its most recent injury report, but rookie forward Will Bruin (L knee surgery) and midfielder Danny Cruz (R quad strain) – both of whom started in Houston’s 1-0 win over New England on April 17 – will be unavailable on Wednesday night.
Key Player: Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber
Feilhaber arrived in New England via the MLS Allocation Process just days after the Revs visited Houston back on April 17, so the 26-year-old playmaker wasn’t on the field that night at Robertson Stadium. Neither was the suspended Shalrie Joseph, so the Revolution relied upon a midfield trio of Chris Tierney, Stephen McCarthy and Zak Boggs to spur the club’s attack out of a 4-3-3 formation.
The Revs’ engine room will likely look significantly different on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium, with Feilhaber the most likely candidate to generate an offensive spark.
“We need to have more confidence and we have to take more risks,” said Feilhaber. “Until we can do that, I think it’s going to be tough to be a possession-oriented team. I’m sure there’s many other things we can work on in that regard, but that’s definitely one thing that I see that I think is at least one of the first steps.”
Final Thoughts: Full 90-minute performance the objective against Houston
At times this season, the Revs have put together stretches of positive play in which they’ve defended solidly, knocked the ball around and generated scoring chances. The primary issue has been turning those 10 or 15 minute periods into complete performances from kickoff to the final whistle, which will be necessary to overcome a feisty Dynamo side on Wednesday night.
“It’s definitely a mental thing,” said rookie defender A.J. Soares. “We have the ability. We’ve shown we have the ability. We’ve gone up 1-0 away several times and then it’s just the mental thing of trying to keep your formation tight and everything and take the game all the way to the 90th minute. We’ve struggled doing that, so hopefully we can turn that around.”