FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s season-long three-game home-stand continues on Saturday, Oct. 8, when the club hosts the San Jose Earthquakes at Gillette Stadium.
Kickoff between the Revs (5-14-12, 27 pts.) and Earthquakes (6-11-14, 32 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m. and 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: Pride on the line after both sides eliminated from postseason contention
Both the Revolution and Earthquakes were officially eliminated from playoff contention within the past week, the Revs following a 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday night at Gillette Stadium and the Earthquakes when the New York Red Bulls defeated the LA Galaxy 2-0 on Tuesday night at Red Bull Arena.
The loss to Seattle was the Revolution’s third straight and left the club stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with three games remaining in the 2011 campaign. But despite the inevitably disappointing end to the season which is to arrive in two weeks, the Revs are focused on pushing through the remainder of their schedule as they look to avoid setting an unwanted club record for fewest wins in a season (7, set in 2001).
“Right now we’re playing for pride,” said central defender Ryan Cochrane. “Nobody wants to end the season on a bad note. Obviously it’s been a really rough season for us. Really up and down and we’ve been on the skid for a while now. So the last three games we’re really trying to put in a good effort and get out of the season on a high note if possible because we’re kind of playing for jobs at this point.”
The Earthquakes have played to three straight 1-1 draws – including two on the road – but those results weren’t enough to keep the club in playoff contention one season after reaching the Eastern Conference Championship. Like their opponent on Saturday night, the Earthquakes will be playing purely for themselves.
“They’re in the same position as us,” said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol. “They’re playing for pride and they’re playing for a spot next year. Both teams are in the same boat, so I would expect both teams to be trying to do as well as they can.”
Past Meetings: McLoughlin, Convey lifted Earthquakes to 2-1 victory on May 21
Second-half substitute Ellis McLoughlin opened the scoring with a 71st-minute header while Bobby Convey added a second 12 minutes later, and despite a consolation strike from Chris Tierney, the Revs suffered a 2-1 loss to the Earthquakes on May 21 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
While the Revs have struggled at Buck Shaw – where they’re 1-3-0 in four visits since San Jose reentered the league in 2008 – they’ve found success against the Earthquakes at Gillette Stadium, going unbeaten (2-0-1) in three games since San Jose’s rebirth.
Injury Report: Reis and Soares added to Revs’ injury list; San Jose missing six
Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis (R hamstring strain) and rookie defender A.J. Soares (L ankle surgery) have been ruled out for Saturday night’s meeting with San Jose, with Soares done for the season following ankle surgery on Thursday.
“It just makes sense,” Nicol said in reference to Soares, who’ll require six to eight weeks of rehabilitation. “Obviously we’d like him to play in the remaining games. I think we’re stronger with him playing, but it makes more sense to get done what he needs so that come the start of next season, he’s 100 percent ready to go.”
Reis and Soares join Zak Boggs (R hip impingement), Rajko Lekic (L ankle sprain), Stephen McCarthy (L shoulder surgery), Ryan Kinne (nasal fracture) and Sainey Nyassi (R hamstring strain) on the sidelines, although both Kevin Alston (L hamstring irritation) and Monsef Zerka (L quad strain) look likely to feature after being upgraded to probable on Friday.
San Jose’s straightforward injury report includes six players, all of whom are listed as out. The list includes Andre Luiz (L knee injury), Ike Opara (L foot injury), Alan Gordon (surgery), Steven Lenhart (family leave), Nana Attakora (L hamstring strain) and Scott Sealy (R quad strain).
Key Players: Revolution central defenders
With Soares sidelined for the final three games of the season, the Revs will have to proceed without the rookie center back who has featured in 28 of the club’s 31 regular-season matches. Against San Jose, Nicol will likely select a central defensive pairing from the trio of Cochrane, Darrius Barnes and Franco Coria, all of whom have seen extensive time on the backline this season.
Key for New England’s center backs will be containing 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, whose penchant for shooting from anywhere and everywhere has landed the Earthquakes forward 12 goals this season, just two behind league leaders Dwayne De Rosario and Thierry Henry (14 each).
Final Thoughts: Revs prepared for Earthquakes to battle for 90 minutes
“I know that coaching staff and they’re not going to pack it in, just like we’re not,” said Cochrane, who played under San Jose head coach Frank Yallop during his second stint with the Earthquakes in 2008 and 2009. “It’s going to be a physical game and one that we’re really going to need to battle through the whole 90 minutes. I think that’s really the big, important thing is a full 90 minutes of good play.”
“It’ll be a competitive game no matter what,” said midfielder Benny Feilhaber. “I think they’re a decent team. They work hard and they’ve obviously got [Wondolowski] who scores a lot of goals for them up top. But regardless, I think we’re more focused on ourselves as opposed to what they’re bringing. Hopefully we can do what we want to do.”