FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After securing a pair of draws in the first two matches, the New England Revolution closes out its three-game home-stand on Wednesday, Sept. 5, when the club hosts the red-hot Columbus Crew.
Kickoff from Gillette Stadium between the Revs (6-14-7, 25 pts.) and Crew (12-8-6, 42 pts.) is set for 8 p.m. Comcast SportsNet will televise the game regionally, while 98.5 The Sports Hub’s HD2 station will have the radio call.
Current Form: Revolution’s winless run reaches double digits; Crew winners of four straight
Goalkeeper Matt Reis was solid behind a new-look backline as the Revs scratched out a 0-0 draw with the Philadelphia Union this past weekend, but the result extended the Revolution’s winless run to 10 games (0-7-3), establishing a new club record. The clean sheet was a welcome change for New England after conceding nine goals in the previous three matches, but unfortunately the Revs failed to replicate the offensive form they’d shown in their recent 4-3 loss to the Crew and 3-3 draw with Chivas USA.
“I think at some point it has to come together,” said central defender Stephen McCarthy. “We have great games on both sides of the ball, but we just haven’t exactly put it all together for an entire 90 (minutes) yet, at least not recently. I think it’s coming and I think we all know it is and we have faith. Hopefully it’ll be this week.”
If the Revs are going to snap their winless run on Wednesday night, they’ll have to do it against one of the hottest teams in MLS. The Crew has won four straight to climb ahead of D.C. United and into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, thanks in large part to the emergence of newcomer Federico Higuain, who is astonishingly garnering MVP consideration with three goals and six assists in just five appearances.
Past Meetings: Crew captured victory in goal-fest less than two weeks ago
Early goals from Ryan Guy and Jerry Bengtson helped the Revs race out to a 2-0 lead when they visited Crew Stadium on Aug. 25, but Higuain and Jairo Arrieta each scored a pair of goals to lift Columbus to a 4-3 victory. Arrieta scored the game winner in the 86th minute – five minutes after Lee Nguyen had leveled from the penalty spot – beginning a stretch in which the Crew has scored three straight game winners in the 85th minute or later.
The Revs and Crew also met on June 16 at Gillette Stadium, playing out a scoreless draw. With one loss and one draw against Columbus so far this season, New England is now winless (0-4-2) in its past six meetings with the Crew dating back to the beginning of the 2010 campaign.
Injury Report: First-choice forward duo unavailable for Revs; Crew deals with lengthy list
The Revolution’s forward tandem will have a decidedly different look on Wednesday night in the absence of Bengtson and Saer Sene. Bengtson will be unavailable against the Crew while on international duty with Honduras, while Sene will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn left ACL in last week’s draw with Chivas USA.
Blake Brettschneider, Diego Fagundez and Dimitry Imbongo comprise the group of candidates likeliest to start at forward against Columbus, presenting a potential opportunity to impress after seeing limited minutes recently.
“With Saer going down – clearly our best offensive threat – there’s a ton of opportunity,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Right now there are three or four guys that are fighting for two spots, so your odds go up. I’m looking at training, I’m looking at opportunities in the game and they’ve got to take them.”
Defenders A.J. Soares and Chris Tierney both sat out last weekend’s draw with the Union while nursing minor injuries, but the duo trained on Tuesday and both declared themselves fit and available for selection against the Crew.
Columbus has dealt with injuries throughout the 2012 season and continues to have one of the league’s longest injury lists, featuring eight players as of last Friday. Defender Carlos Mendes was most recently listed as out with a right hamstring strain – an injury he suffered on Aug. 25 against the Revolution – while Arrieta was listed as questionable with a right ankle contusion.
Final Thoughts: Heaps wants Revs to be stronger in the closing stages
“You’ve got to take past performance and use what you can, learn from positives and negatives, so we’re going to do that from a positive standpoint,” Heaps said when asked about scoring three goals against Columbus on Aug. 25. “But for us, really it’s about being at home and about the fact that we haven’t finished games at home the way we want to. That’s the most important thing we do on Wednesday.”