SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The New England Revolution plays its third game in eight days when the club visits Western Conference powerhouse Real Salt Lake on Saturday, May 5, at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Revs (3-5-0, 9 pts.) and RSL (6-3-1, 19 pts.) will get underway at 9 p.m. ET 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: Midweek win snaps Revs’ losing streak; RSL trying to keep pace atop the West
Saer Sène’s team-leading third goal of the season and Fernando Cardenas’ first MLS tally lifted the Revolution to a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium, securing a 100th regular-season victory for goalkeeper Matt Reis and snapping New England’s three-game losing streak in the process.
The Revs had played an attractive brand of soccer in previous matches but weren’t producing the desired end result with goals or wins, prompting head coach Jay Heaps to urge his side to focus on toughness and determination to halt the recent slump.
“I think of the games we’ve played, it probably wasn’t our best technically, but it was certainly a good collective effort and that’s the most important thing,” said Heaps. “When you get into the trenches, you need guys to be able to lean on each other and that’s what we did.”
Real Salt Lake snapped a three-game winless streak of its own with a dramatic 3-2 victory over last-place Toronto FC last weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium. Twice RSL allowed TFC to equalize after taking leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but Jonny Steele’s game winner in the 93rd minute ultimately handed the home side all three points. The victory improved Salt Lake’s home record to 4-1-0 this season and kept the Utah side three points behind the first-place San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference.
Past Meetings: Revolution hoping to erase past disappointments at Rio Tinto
Three previous trips to Rio Tinto Stadium have all ended in frustration for the Revolution.
The Revs were dismantled in their first two trips to Sandy – suffering losses of 6-0 in 2009 and 5-0 in 2010 – but had a glorious chance to reverse their fortunes last season when they went up 2-0 and had a man advantage inside 20 minutes. A series of twists and turns followed, however, and Fabian Espindola eventually scored the game-tying goal in the 83rd minute as the teams finished level at 3-3.
Injury Report: Moreno sidelined by calf strain; Alston and Sène both battling illness
Forward Jose Moreno has partnered Sène in each of the Revolution’s past three games, but that pairing will be forced to change this weekend as Moreno will miss Saturday’s game with a right calf strain. The Colombian target man played 68 minutes in the midweek meeting with Colorado but was ultimately replaced by Lee Nguyen.
“This was going to be [Moreno’s] third game (in a week) and to be honest with you, I think we were going to give him a rest anyway,” Heaps admitted. “Unfortunately, you just don’t want to do it with an injury. You’d rather be able to play his minutes from a management standpoint, not from an injury standpoint.”
Sène is battling illness along with right back Kevin Alston – who was replaced in the 42nd minute of Wednesday night’s game – but both are listed as probable ahead of the weekend after making the trip to Salt Lake City.
Real Salt Lake currently boasts the shortest injury report in Major League Soccer with just one player listed on its most recent report. Cody Arnoux (L adductor strain) – who hasn’t featured for RSL yet this season – is out for this weekend’s match.
Key Player: Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis
The Revs have conceded 14 goals in their previous three visits to Rio Tinto Stadium and Real Salt Lake has one of the league’s top attacks with 16 goals scored through 10 games. Reis will need to be sharp once again if he’s going to pick up win number 101 after reaching the century mark on Wednesday night.
“For a guy like him, he’s had such a fantastic career and hopefully he can get a lot more wins,” center back A.J. Soares said of his veteran goalkeeper. “He’s a big-time goalie and like I say every week when someone asks me about him, he proves that he’s one of the best players in the league. Not just the best goalie; he’s one of the best players in the league.”
Final Thoughts: Toughness to be tested once again as Revs close out three-game week
“Any time you come to Salt Lake away there are a lot of excuses to not get a result,” said left back Chris Tierney. “The travel, the altitude, Salt Lake’s a good team. So there are a lot of factors that are working against us, but all those things combined call for us to stand up and be strong, defend our goal and try to put them under pressure.”
“I think we’re going to have to have plenty of [grit and determination] to get something out of the game,” added midfielder Benny Feilhaber. “Whether it’s three points or a point – whatever it is – we’re going to have to fight, we’re going to have to grind it out and when we do have the opportunity to play, we have to play.”