CARSON, Calif. – Looking to build upon last weekend’s home-opening victory over the Portland Timbers, the New England Revolution returns to the road this weekend to battle the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy.
The Revs (1-2-0, 3 pts.) and Galaxy (1-1-0, 3 pts.) will get underway at 11 p.m. ET at The Home Depot Center and the match will be televised live nationally on NBC Sports Network. Radio listeners can catch the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Sène’s early goal gets Revs off the mark; Galaxy well rested after bye week
All the Revs needed was a bit of home cooking after opening the season with a pair of road losses as Saer Sène’s goal just 28 seconds into the match lifted New England to a 1-0 win over Portland last weekend at Gillette Stadium. Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis made his 1000th career save as part of the shutout effort and captain Shalrie Joseph put in a solid performance as an emergency center back.
“It was huge,” midfielder Lee Nguyen said of picking up the first three points of the season. “I think getting the early goal helped us out and (also) being able to hold it throughout the 90 minutes. We saw little bits and pieces of the way we wanted to play. I think as the season goes on we’re going to get more comfortable playing with each other and that’s just going to help.”
The Galaxy opened the regular season with a 3-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake, but more surprising was the club’s 2-1 loss to Toronto FC just four days later – also at The Home Depot Center – which eliminated Bruce Arena’s side from the CONCACAF Champions League. LA got back on track in its most recent match by claiming a 3-1 win over D.C. United on March 18 before resting through a bye on the schedule last weekend.
Past Meetings: Historically low-scoring affairs edged by Galaxy in recent years
A total of just three goals were scored in two meetings between the Revs and Galaxy last season as LA followed up a 1-1 draw at The Home Depot Center on March 20 with a 1-0 win at Gillette Stadium on May 28. The Revs have just one win in their last seven regular-season meetings with the Galaxy (1-4-2).
New England and LA did meet twice this preseason as part of the Desert Diamond Cup in late February and early March. The Revs earned a 3-2 win over the Galaxy in the opening game of the competition, but LA gained a measure of revenge in the championship match, emerging victorious on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw through 90 minutes.
Injury Report: Feilhaber still sidelined; Donovan a question mark for LA
Benny Feilhaber (L peroneal strain) will miss his second straight game and John Lozano (R hip flexor strain) will be sidelined for a third consecutive match, but there is positive news on the injury front for the Revolution.
Kevin Alston has been fitted with a protective mask after suffering a broken nose in last weekend’s win over the Timbers and the speedy right back will be available to face the Galaxy on Saturday night. The Revs will also welcome Darrius Barnes and Stephen McCarthy back into the fold as Barnes has recovered from a left calf strain and McCarthy returns from suspension.
Meanwhile, recent arrivals Florian Lechner and Jose Moreno both traveled with the Revolution for the first time and the duo will likely be available for selection during the two-game trip which also takes the Revs to Texas for a midweek meeting with FC Dallas.
“It’s good to get players back,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Every week that we can continue to do that you feel like you just get your strength back. It makes your travel list even harder to pick and it makes our players that much more hungry to play.”
Question marks surround the availability of multiple Galaxy players heading into this weekend, including the lethal attacking duo of Landon Donovan (L quad tightness) and Mike Magee (R adductor tightness). Both players were held out of training for parts of this week and both were listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report along with former Revs Adam Cristman (concussion) and Pat Noonan (R hip flexor tightness).
There is no question about the availability of 2011 MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, however, as the dominant center back will miss much of the season after suffering a torn ACL while on loan to German side FC Nurnberg.
Key Player: Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms
Perhaps the most consistent player in the Revolution’s first three matches, central midfielder Clyde Simms does many of the little things which go unnoticed throughout the course of a game. Simms will need to be sharp once again on Saturday night to help neutralize the Galaxy’s potent attack, which filters through the middle of the park with Juninho and David Beckham pulling the strings.
“He covers a lot of ground,” Heaps said of Simms. “When I go back and watch the film – and we as a staff watch the film – every time it’s over, we’re like, ‘Wow, Clyde really covered a lot of ground, quietly.’ Even in the things you don’t notice when you’re watching the game live. It’s when you go back and really monitor what he’s done, you realize what kind of player he is.”
Final Thoughts: Improved possession still the primary objective
“No question we’re still looking to settle the game down for longer periods of time,” said Heaps. “I think you saw some of the technical ability of Fernando (Cardenas) and Lee at times to slow it up, but we haven’t been able to do that consistently for a long period of time. We definitely had too many unforced turnovers (against Portland) and continued to give the ball away in times when we felt like that’s a place where we can keep it, make the other team defend us.”