FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After completing an unbeaten three-game home-stand, the New England Revolution returns to the road on Saturday night to battle D.C. United in a meeting with massive playoff implications.
Kickoff from RFK Stadium between the Revs (7-14-7, 28 pts.) and United (12-10-5, 41 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet will televise the game regionally, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will carry the radio call.
Current Form: Revs aim to build upon slump-busting win; D.C. clinging to postseason hopes
Last time out the Revs halted their club-record 10-game winless run with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew, completing a weeklong home-stand with an unbeaten record of 1-0-2. Although the playoffs are almost certainly out of reach for the Revs – they could be officially eliminated through multiple scenarios this weekend – they’ll be looking to replicate their newfound resilience through the final six games of the regular season.
“We got what we deserved [against Columbus] in how we played,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “It wasn’t the prettiest, but it was aggressive and it was persuasive, meaning we got in on challenges and we worked hard. That’s the key going forward. It’s all 11 men, from the goalkeeper to the forwards, defending and fighting for everything.”
United’s postseason hopes are still very much alive, although Ben Olsen’s side finds itself in a precarious position with just six weeks remaining on the regular-season schedule. D.C. has faltered since entering July on top of the Eastern Conference standings, winning just two of the past nine games to drop out of the playoff spots. United enters the weekend one point back of Columbus, which occupies the fifth and final postseason spot.
Past Meetings: United looks to complete 2012 three-game sweep
Saturday night’s match will be the third and final meeting between New England and D.C. this season and the Revs will be looking to salvage something from the series after a pair of losses in the first two encounters.
Chris Pontius struck late to hand the Revs their first home loss of the season in a 2-1 setback on April 14 at Gillette Stadium, while Maicon Santos notched the game winner in United’s 3-2 victory on May 26 at RFK Stadium. This season’s results have put an end to the Revolution’s dominance in the series after winning five straight meetings between 2009 and 2011.
Injury Report: Bengtson, Toja could both feature for Revs; De Rosario sidelined for D.C.
While leading scorer Saer Sene prepares to undergo reconstructive surgery on his torn left ACL early next week, the Revs could benefit from the services of both Jerry Bengtson and Juan Toja this weekend.
Bengtson missed the win over Columbus while on international duty – scoring both game winners in Honduras’ pair of victories over Cuba in World Cup Qualifiers – but the 25-year-old striker returned midweek and joined the Revs for training on both Thursday and Friday, prompting Heaps to declare he’ll “definitely” be available to face D.C.
New acquisition Juan Toja could also feature in a limited role at RFK Stadium after training throughout the week. Toja hasn’t played in a first-team match since February and needs time to regain full fitness, but Heaps has seen enough in training to suggest the two-time MLS All-Star could make his Revolution debut as a substitute.
“He’s a little bit of a ways away, but you see some of his brilliance in training,” Heaps said on Thursday. “We’re really excited to see his progression. He got here Monday. He worked hard for two days. Day by day he’s getting better and better and you can see it.”
The news isn’t so positive for D.C., which announced on Thursday that captain and 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario will miss the next 10-12 weeks with a sprained MCL, effectively ending his season. De Rosario – who is second in the league with 12 assists to go along with seven goals – suffered the injury in the early stages of Canada’s World Cup Qualifying loss to Panama on Tuesday night.
“He’s always a player that defensively you have to mark and watch,” said Heaps. “He plays that false nine forward really well. He gets in behind and can also create. So I think they’re going to miss him, but they’re a deep team so they know how to adapt.”
Final Thoughts: Revs prepared to play the role of spoiler if necessary
“They’re in a big position to make the playoffs,” said Kelyn Rowe. “They’re going to come out fighting, but we’re not going to just lay down for them. We’re definitely going to come out. We’re looking for some pride right now. We’re going to get some wins and hopefully at the end of the year we’ll get six in a row.”