VANCOUVER – Unbeaten in five league games and riding a club-record 395-minute shutout streak, the New England Revolution will pay its first-ever visit to BC Place on Saturday night when the club takes on Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the only time in 2013.
The Revs (5-4-5, 20 pts.) and Whitecaps (4-5-4, 16 pts.) will kick off at 10 p.m. ET, with regional coverage on both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s HD2 channel.
Current Form: As Revs try to continue unbeaten run, Whitecaps try to stay unbeaten at home
Kelyn Rowe continued his scorching U.S. Open Cup form with another pair of goals in the Revolution’s 4-2 triumph over the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night, sending the Revs into a quarterfinal-round meeting with D.C. United. The win extended New England’s unbeaten run to seven games (5-0-2) in all competitions, including a pair of U.S. Open Cup victories.
The Revolution’s unbeaten run in the league reached five games (3-0-2) in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with D.C. as the Revs pushed their shutout streak to a club-record 395 minutes. But just one week after putting up five goals against the defending champion LA Galaxy, the Revs were disappointed not to break through offensively and secure the full three points against United.
“I think our tempo was good at times against D.C., but it’s been better,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “How quickly we play, the movement – it ended up being a little bit better than I thought, but the final ball obviously let us down. I also think we were a little narrow. I think we’ve got to use the field a little bit more to our advantage, use some of our width a little bit better.”
Vancouver had a three-game unbeaten run snapped last weekend in Seattle as the Whitecaps couldn’t make their 2-1 second-half lead stand up in an eventual 3-2 loss to the Sounders. But the Canadian side is still unbeaten at home (3-0-3), making the Whitecaps one of just three MLS teams yet to lose on their home ground.
Past Meetings: Revs unbeaten in three previous meetings with Whitecaps
The Revs and Whitecaps have met just three times since Vancouver entered MLS as an expansion side in 2011, with the Revs holding the upper hand in the series. New England has won both meetings at Gillette Stadium and picked up a 1-1 draw in the only previous visit to Vancouver in a match played at Empire Field in 2011. Saturday night will mark the Revolution’s first-ever visit to BC Place.
It will also mark Lee Nguyen’s first return trip to Vancouver since being waived by the Whitecaps last March. In his first appearance against his former team last year in Foxborough, Nguyen notched MLS player of the week honors with a two-goal, one-assist performance, including a stunning strike which finished fourth in league-wide goal of the year voting.
“Any game I play, I’m always trying to prove myself,” said Nguyen. “There might be that little extra edge going into Vancouver. We’ll see.”
Injury Report: Simms remains sidelined for NE: Whitecaps short on defenders
Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will miss his fourth straight match while recovering from a right knee sprain, while Juan Toja – who has started the last four games in central midfield – is listed as questionable with tightness in his lower back.
The Whitecaps have been hit by a glut of injuries to central defenders as captain Jay DeMerit (torn Achilles tendon), Andy O’Brien (hamstring) and Brad Rusin (calf) have all been ruled out of Saturday night’s game, while 2011 top overall SuperDraft pick Omar Salgado (foot fracture) is also sidelined.
Another early SuperDraft pick – 2012 second overall selection Darren Mattocks – will also be unavailable for Vancouver while on international duty with Jamaica.
Final Thoughts: Goncalves says Revs are ready for “a big challenge”
“We progress every week and that’s very important for the team,” said captain Jose Goncalves. “I think everyone is focused. We know it will be a hard game, specifically because they haven’t lost at home and it will be a good crowd. So we have to take that as a big challenge, very seriously, and I think if we go that way we can take points.”