FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After taking four points from back-to-back home games, the New England Revolution returns to the road this weekend for a visit to Eastern Conference foe D.C. United.
The Revs (4-6-1, 13 pts.) and United (7-4-3, 24 pts.) will renew acquaintances at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at RFK Stadium and the game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet alternate channels throughout New England, while the match will also be joined in progress on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 8 p.m. The radio call will be available on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs hope to replicate home success on the road; D.C. up to second in East
Saer Sène’s two-goal effort helped the Revs secure their first draw of the season last weekend against the Houston Dynamo, improving New England’s record to 2-0-1 in the past three home games and 3-1-1 overall at Gillette Stadium. Now the Revs hope to take some of that home success on the road, where they’ve struggled early in the season with a record of 1-5-0 in six away fixtures.
“If you can get points on the road, it’s great,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “We’re going to have to play a perfect game to get those points. I think we’re definitely capable of it. We’ve shown the past couple weeks that we’re playing good soccer.”
RFK Stadium has not been a forgiving venue for visiting teams, however, as United is unbeaten in its last seven home games (5-0-2) since dropping the season opener to Sporting Kansas City. Saturday night’s contest ends a run of three straight home matches for D.C., which has already claimed victories over the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC in the first two games of the stretch.
Past Meetings: Pontius’ late goal lifted D.C. to victory in April encounter at Gillette Stadium
This weekend’s game marks the Revolution’s first rematch of the 2012 season as United visited Foxborough just six weeks ago. Jose Moreno scored his first – and to this date, only – MLS goal in the sixth minute to put the Revs on top, but Maicon Santos equalized midway through the first half and Chris Pontius struck in the 82nd minute to lift the visitors to a 2-1 win. The result snapped the Revolution’s five-game winning streak over United.
“I went back and watched the tape,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “I thought we gave them that game and I think we gave them the confidence to realize they can go on the road and win, and we hate that. We’re upset about that … It’s going to be our job to go down there and take back from them what they took from us.”
Injury Report: Simms still out for New England; Cruz, Russell missing for D.C.
Clyde Simms looks unlikely to make his return to RFK Stadium this weekend as the central midfielder was still listed as out on Tuesday’s injury report with left ankle tendonitis. Simms, who spent seven seasons with the Black-and-Red from 2005-11, missed his first game of the season last weekend against Houston and his absence was felt in the middle of the park.
“Losing Clyde Simms, that’s a tough one because he’s so good for us clogging up spaces,” said Heaps. “I always go back and watch Clyde Simms and I always say he had a great game. Then I go back and look and I go, ‘Wow, he really did have a great game.’”
D.C.’s midweek injury report was lengthy with nine players on the list, including a few question marks heading toward the weekend. Right back Robbie Russell (L hamstring strain) and midfielder Danny Cruz (R hamstring strain) are both out for Saturday’s game, while rookie Nick DeLeon (L hamstring strain), goalkeeper Joe Willis (eye contusion) and the aforementioned Pontius (gluteus minimus strain) were all questionable.
Key Player: Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis
United’s high-powered attack features five different players with three or more goals, led by offseason acquisition Maicon Santos (6) and returning stalwarts Dwayne De Rosario (5) and Chris Pontius (5). D.C. has scored 25 goals through 14 games – just one behind the league-leading New York Red Bulls and San Jose Earthquakes – while United has registered a league-best 17 goals at home.
Ben Olsen’s side has been particularly lethal in recent weeks, scoring three-plus goals in four of its past seven games. In order to take a positive result from Our Nation’s Capital, Reis will likely be called upon to make a big save or two.
“It’s going to be a battle,” said Reis. “We know that they’re going to put a lot of pressure on us from the way they’ve been playing. They’ve put on a very good run.”
Final Thoughts: Focus the key to avoiding another late lapse
“I think we’ve just got to keep our concentration,” center back A.J. Soares said of buttoning up in the closing stages. “We know what to do, we play well and we know the game plan. As long as we just execute (we’ll be fine). [It’s] just turning your brain on and when your legs go, really start concentrating hard and make sure your mind makes up for how tired you are.”