FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Just three days after conceding a 90th-minute goal in a frustrating 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo, the New England Revolution will have a chance to redeem itself in front of the hometown fans when the club hosts the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Kickoff between the Revs (4-11-10, 22 pts.) and Red Bulls (6-6-13, 31 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m. The match 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 aim to rebound from midweek disappointment; Red Bulls winless in six
For 86 minutes, Ryan Cochrane’s first goal for the Revolution – fittingly against his former club, Houston – looked like it would be all the Revs needed to snap their four-game winless run and claim a precious home victory on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium. Unfortunately for Cochrane and his teammates, Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell buried a rebound in the 90th minute to snatch two points from the Revolution in the waning moments of a 1-1 draw.
The result – which extended New England’s home winless run to six games (0-3-3) dating back to May 14 – leaves the Revs in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, just one point ahead of the Chicago Fire at the foot of the table and nine points back of the final wildcard playoff spot.
Ironically, it’s the Red Bulls who currently cling to that final postseason spot, although their grip is waning as D.C. United has climbed into a tie for the last playoff berth and the Black-and-Red has a pair of games in hand. Since a red-hot start to the season, New York has struggled in recent months, winning just two games since the end of April and subsequently slipping from first place into a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Hans Backe’s side leads the league in goals (39) but has struggled to find the net during its current six-game winless run (0-3-3), scoring only five times. While only suffering six losses in 25 games, the Red Bulls have been hurt by 13 draws.
Past Meetings: Henry tallied game-winner in New York’s 2-1 win on June 10 at Red Bull Arena
MLS leading scorer Thierry Henry scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 50th minute and the Red Bulls held on for a 2-1 win over the Revs on June 10 at Red Bull Arena. It was New York’s second straight win over New England in the regular-season series after the Revs went unbeaten in 14 straight meetings (8-0-6) from 2005-10.
Despite the loss in Harrison, N.J., the Revolution does still hold a notable streak against the Red Bulls as New England is unbeaten in its last 13 home games against New York, going 10-0-3 at Gillette Stadium since 2002. At that point, Steve Nicol was the Revolution’s interim head coach and the New York-based club was known as the MetroStars.
Injury Report: Lekic likely to return for New England; Red Bulls missing Rodgers, Rost
After missing the past three games with a fractured big toe on his right foot, Rajko Lekic looks set to return to the Revolution’s lineup after participating in full training on Friday morning. Lekic hasn’t featured since scoring the Revolution’s only goal in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on July 30 and his level of participation on Saturday will be determined by his body’s response to the increased activity.
“Obviously he’s not 100 percent fit,” said Nicol. “He hasn’t done anything for three weeks, but we’ll see [how he reacts]. If he’s good to go, that is. [Friday] was his first real practice, so we’ll see what his reaction is.”
Chris Tierney (L foot sprain) is also probable after picking up a slight knock during training on Friday, but the trio of Franco Coria (L MCL sprain), Kheli Dube (whiplash) and Sainey Nyassi (R MCL sprain) will miss out yet again.
The Red Bulls will be shorthanded, as well, with forward Luke Rodgers (plantar fasciitis) and starting goalkeeper Frank Rost (R quadriceps tear) both unavailable this weekend. Rodgers has six goals and three assists in 15 appearances this season, while Rost was brought in as a Designated Player on July 13.
Defender Jan Gunnar Solli – who has registered six assists in 24 starts for the Red Bulls this season – was listed as questionable with a right quad strain on Tuesday’s injury report and is not expected to be available on Saturday night.
Key Player: Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth
Matt Reis earned plaudits from both teammates and opponents alike for his stellar performance this past Wednesday night against the Dynamo, but the veteran goalkeeper was issued a straight red card well after the final whistle for his part in a postgame scuffle.
With Reis now suspended for his side’s encounter with the high-scoring Red Bulls, third-year goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth will step into the spotlight to make his fourth start of the season.
“There are probably a lot of teams in the league (where) had he been with them, he’d have been playing (regularly) by now,” Nicol said of Shuttleworth. “He’s just been unfortunate that he’s had Matt Reis in front of him, which is great for us, but Bobby’s really had to be patient. Obviously he’s going to get his chance to play on Saturday and I’m sure you’ll see what he has to offer.”
Final Thoughts: Positive start critical again if Revs hope to finish off Red Bulls
Prior to their midweek meeting with the Dynamo, multiple Revolution players spoke of the importance of a solid start in order to establish themselves early in the game. The Revs got the start they were looking for with Cochrane’s fourth-minute goal, but ultimately weren’t able to see out the advantage until the final whistle as Boswell’s 90th-minute goal claimed a point for the visitors.
The Revolution will aim for a similar start against the Red Bulls, but with an altogether different finish.
“(The key is) just bringing that intensity off the opening whistle and really putting them under pressure and establishing the tempo right away,” said Tierney. “I think if we come out hot and get the first goal, then we’ll have a good chance to win the game.”