FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Buoyed by last weekend’s season-opening victory over the Chicago Fire, the New England Revolution aims for a second straight road win on Saturday when the club visits the Philadelphia Union as part of Rivalry Week.
Brad Feldman and Jeff Causey will make their 2013 television debuts calling the game on Comcast SportsNet, while radio listeners can tune into 98.5 The Sports Hub. Kickoff from PPL Park is set for 5 p.m.
Current Form: Both sides claimed three points on the road last weekend
Kelyn Rowe came off the bench last Saturday to spark the Revs to a 1-0 victory over the Fire, assisting on Jerry Bengtson’s 62nd-minute goal and helping New England to its first season-opening win since 2009. Goalkeeper Matt Reis made four saves to secure his 71st career shutout and simultaneously clinch the Revolution’s first regular-season victory in Chicago since 2006.
There were plenty of positive signs for the Revs as they seamlessly introduced four newcomers to the starting lineup – Kalifa Cisse, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves and Donnie Smith – while Juan Toja was the offensive catalyst in his first start in a Revolution jersey. But while the result represents an ideal start to the second year of Jay Heaps’ tenure, there is also room for growth as the 2013 season progresses.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” said Heaps. “It was a good first test and we withstood some of their pressure. But there were times when we played ourselves into trouble and that’s something we have to get better at, making sure we don’t put each other in trouble areas.”
Philadelphia opened the season two weeks ago with a 3-1 home loss to Sporting Kansas City, but altered its formation from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 ahead of last Sunday’s meeting with the Colorado Rapids. The shift paid off as Amobi Okugo and Jack McInerney scored to lift the Union to a 2-1 win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Past Meetings: After three years and seven matches, Revs still in search of first win over Union
The Revs head to PPL Park this weekend aiming to make history on two accounts.
A win on Saturday would give the Revs their first 2-0-0 start in club history, while it would also be the Revolution’s first-ever win over the Union after coming up short in seven previous attempts. Four losses and three draws are all the Revs have managed since the Union joined MLS as an expansion club in 2010.
McInerney was the villain last year, scoring Philadelphia’s game-winning goal in both of the Revolution’s visits to PPL Park, while Sebastien Le Toux presents another threat after returning to Philly this past offseason.
Injury Report: Tierney back after missing season opener; trio questionable for Union
Saer Sene (ACL surgery) currently stands alone on the Revolution’s injury report as the French striker remains on track for a return sometime in April. That means Chris Tierney will be available for selection this weekend after missing the season opener because of a left ankle sprain.
Philadelphia lists three players as questionable on its injury report: Le Toux (low back strain), Conor Casey (R hamstring strain) and Gabriel Farfan (R hamstring strain). Both Le Toux and Farfan appeared in the Union’s recent win over the Rapids.
Final Thoughts: Heaps urges his side to start strong at PPL Park
“I think when you do go on the road you have to be mindful of the emotion of the crowd, the emotion of the home team and the momentum of an early goal either way,” said Heaps. “You have to be mindful of that and sometimes tactically you have to be aware of that. I think that is one thing that gets understated is how you prepare yourself for a game and how quickly a game can change if a goal is scored early.”