PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The New England Revolution enters the final month of the 2012 season with another visit to PPL Park for a Saturday night meeting with the Philadelphia Union.
The Revs (7-16-8, 29 pts.) and Union (9-15-6, 33 pts.) will get underway at 7 p.m., with Comcast SportsNet televising the game regionally and 98.5 The Sports Hub handling the radio call.
Current Form: Eastern Conference foes both eliminated from playoff contention
Late goals from Houston Dynamo midfielders Ricardo Clark and Boniek Garcia sent the Revolution to a 2-0 loss last weekend at BBVA Compass Stadium, marking the club’s first multi-goal loss since a 3-0 setback against Sporting Kansas City back on March 17. Playing amidst torrential downpours for much of the game, the Revs lacked sharpness in possession and completed only 63 percent of their passes on the night.
“They played to their strengths,” head coach Jay Heaps said of the Dynamo. “We did well enough defensively, but we never controlled the ball when we [had possession], so we really defended for too much of that game. That’s really what it came down to.”
The Union was eliminated from playoff contention last weekend with a contentious 3-2 loss at Crew Stadium, but John Hackworth’s side responded in emphatic fashion on Wednesday night with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Philadelphia has now won two of its past three games and has scored eight goals during that stretch, matching the club’s total scoring output from the previous 11 matches.
Past Meetings: Revolution still searching for first-ever win over Union
New England will be hoping that the seventh time’s the charm in the quest to beat Philadelphia, having gone winless (0-3-3) in six previous meetings with the Union.
The clubs have already met twice this season, including a dramatic encounter at PPL Park in which Jack McInerney scored in the 90th minute to hand the Union a come-from-behind 2-1 victory. That match was followed by a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium in which goalkeeper Matt Reis made a season-high seven saves.
Injury Report: McCarthy ruled out for shorthanded Revs; Philly also undermanned
Stephen McCarthy (concussive-like symptoms) has been added to the growing list of injured Revolution defenders, a group which already includes Flo Lechner (R MCL sprain), Tyler Polak (R foot sprain) and Chris Tierney (L knee sprain/L hamstring strain).
The shortage leaves the Revs with only three healthy natural defenders – Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes and A.J. Soares – meaning someone will have to step into a makeshift role on Saturday night. Barnes and Soares are likely to man the middle with Alston at one outside back position, while candidates to cover the opposite side include Ryan Guy, Alec Purdie and Mike Roach.
“It’s definitely going to be a different look,” said Barnes. “We have some injuries, but we have a core group of guys back there who’ve played back there year in and year out. It’s our job to go out there and lead the backline and make sure everything’s tight.”
For the second straight week, there is good news with regards to the progress of Clyde Simms (R calf strain), who was upgraded to questionable on Friday and will be available for selection against the Union.
Philadelphia will be shorthanded, as well, as Hackworth will be forced to navigate through both injuries and suspensions. Freddy Adu (L quad strain) and Gabriel Farfan (R ankle contusion/R hamstring strain) both missed the midweek win over the Fire, while Danny Cruz was forced out of that match after suffering what the club is now calling a right toe sprain (after initial reports suggested it was a fractured ankle).
Union defender Sheanon Williams went the distance against Chicago but picked up a 78th-minute caution, meaning he’ll have to serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Final Thoughts: Heaps wants determination for the full 90 minutes
“We’ve had three games where we scored on the last play of the game and I think that shows resolve, but there’s got to be more of that earlier in the game,” said Heaps. “There’s got to be taking the chances when the game’s not down to its last breath, when it’s still anyone’s ballgame and you can dictate three points versus no points.”