FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Winners of four straight games in all competitions, the streaking New England Revolution aims to continue its strong run of form on Saturday night when Eastern Conference rival D.C. United visits Gillette Stadium.
The Revs (5-4-4, 19 pts.) and United (1-10-2, 5 pts.) will get underway at 7:30 p.m., with both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub carrying the game regionally.
Current Form: Red-hot Revs looking to sweep homestand; United winless in 11
Three straight wins in league action – sandwiched around a convincing U.S. Open Cup victory – have the Revs climbing the Eastern Conference standings as one of MLS’ hottest teams. New England’s recent run of form has the club up to sixth place in the East and above the .500 mark for the first time since early March.
All three of the Revolution’s recent victories have come via shutout as the Revs have outscored opponents 9-0 while extending their shutout streak to 305 minutes. Last weekend the Revs used a late surge to explode past the two-time defending champion LA Galaxy by a score of 5-0, but head coach Jay Heaps was still quick to point out the areas in which his side needs to improve moving forward.
“On the positive side, we were happy with the way the second half went in terms of us taking our chances, and we didn’t give them many chances until too late,” Heaps said. “But I thought we can be better. The way we started that game, we gave a little too much respect to LA and we didn’t keep the ball all that well.
“With that said, we look at the whole 90 minutes and we’re very happy with the result, but it’s always good to learn from certain situations on a positive.”
D.C. United had high expectations for 2013 after reaching the Eastern Conference championship series last season, but the club has surprisingly struggled early in the campaign. Entering this weekend, United sits on the bottom of the MLS standings and is in the midst of an 11-game winless run (0-9-2).
Still, the Revs are wary of a D.C. side which features many of the pieces which guided the club to the brink of an MLS Cup appearance just seven months ago.
“We’re not going to overlook D.C.,” said Juan Agudelo, who has two goals in his first three appearances with New England. “We know what they’ve done. They went far in the playoffs last year and they’re capable of achieving a lot. They just have to get a couple things going for them and we have to be aware.”
Past Meetings: United swept three-game season series in 2012
Three meetings between the Revs and United all ended in similar fashion last season – with D.C. victorious. United won all three games in the 2012 series – all by a single goal – including a 2-1 triumph at Gillette Stadium.
Last year’s D.C. sweep ended a run of five straight wins in the series for the Revs, who held the upper hand over their Eastern Conference rivals from 2009 to 2011.
Injury Report: Simms remains sidelined; Bengtson away on international duty
Clyde Simms is likely to miss his third straight game as he continues to recover from a right knee sprain, while the Revs will also be without the services of Jerry Bengtson, currently on international duty with Honduras.
Bengtson’s fellow forward Dimitry Imbongo has missed the past two games – one through suspension and one through injury – but could return on Saturday night after being upgraded to questionable ahead of the match.
D.C. will be missing midfielders Lewis Neal and Marcelo Saragosa, while Raphael Augusto, Dejan Jakovic and Lionard Pajoy are all questionable.
Final Thoughts: Revs keeping focus on what they can control – effort
“You can’t determine results all the time – you can’t determine them basically ever – but what you can bring is the same attitude, the same energy, the same commitment game in and game out,” said Heaps. “We prepare ourselves well, we get ourselves ready for the game, the players understand our game plan and they understand what they need to do.
“Then when the game happens, it’s all about the energy and the effort. We’ll never say we’re going to win this game or we’re going to win that game, but we know that when we step on the field, we want the other team to know that we just played.”