FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Separated by just two points in the Eastern Conference standings, the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo will meet in a pivotal match on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
The Revs (6-5-6, 24 pts.) enter the weekend in sixth place in the East, just behind the Dynamo (7-6-5, 26 pts.), which currently occupies the fifth and final playoff spot in the conference. A victory over Houston would vault New England into playoff position as the second half of the season gets underway.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night with both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub carrying the action. Fans attending the match are encouraged to bring new or gently-used soccer equipment to be donated to Project GOAL. Those who make a donation will receive a player-autographed memento. More details HERE.
Current Form: Win over San Jose has Revs back on track; Dynamo snaps winless run
Goals from the golden-Mohawked duo of Saer Sene and Dimitry Imbongo lifted New England to a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend at Gillette Stadium, helping the Revs snap a brief three-game winless run (0-1-2) while simultaneously extending their home unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2).
Center backs Jose Goncalves and Stephen McCarthy bottled up San Jose’s physical front two and Bobby Shuttleworth needed to make just two saves to keep the Revolution’s league-leading 10th clean sheet. The Revs have now racked up four straight shutouts at Gillette Stadium and haven’t conceded a goal at home since May 11.
“We played a good game. Not our best game, but we were certainly sound defensively. We didn’t give away anything, they didn’t have many chances and that’s a good thing,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Houston, I think, is going to be a little bit more rested than San Jose, and they’re coming here to get three (points), I know that.”
Ricardo Clark’s second-half header helped the Dynamo to a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union last weekend, snapping Houston’s seven-game winless run. Clark’s goal was the Dynamo’s first since a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew back on June 1 after being shut out in four straight games in all competitions.
Past Meetings: Revs came out on top in heated battle on May 18 in Houston
Diego Fagundez scored the game winner early in the second half and Juan Agudelo added a late insurance strike in his Revolution debut as New England claimed a 2-0 win over Houston on May 18 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
It was a fiery affair in which both sides had players red-carded in the first half and that type of intense atmosphere is to be expected once again on Saturday night.
“They’re one of the more physical teams that we play anyway and they’re not going to forget last game,” said McCarthy. “Neither are we, so it’s going to be a battle.”
Injury Report: Agudelo still sidelined by knee injury; Houston missing pair to U.S. duty
Revolution forward Juan Agudelo will miss his third straight game while recovering from a right knee sprain, leaving the door open once again for someone to step up in his absence.
Chad Barrett earned the start against San Jose and put in a strong 68-minute shift, while Imbongo came off the bench to score the Revolution’s late insurance goal. Central midfielder Lee Nguyen was also influential as he led New England’s dynamic attack with two assists.
“The offense, we just do our job,” said Fagundez. “We try to do everything we can to get goals and create chances. No matter who’s up there – if it’s Jerry (Bengtson), Chad or Agudelo – things shouldn’t change. We should just keep playing the way we were and try to combine with one another.”
Houston will be without its captain and attacking catalyst, Brad Davis, currently sidelined by a left hamstring strain. Davis has three goals and three assists on the season.
Forward Will Bruin is tied for the Dynamo team lead in both goals and assists with four apiece, but he’ll also be unavailable on Saturday night – along with left back Corey Ashe – while on duty with the U.S. National Team during the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Final Thoughts: McCarthy dubs Saturday night “biggest game” in his time with the Revs
“It’s a rivalry, plus it is worth more points, honestly,” McCarthy said, referencing Saturday night’s potential six-point swing in the Eastern Conference. “You have to have almost a different mindset that this game can basically change your season. We know how important it is; it’s probably the biggest game I’ve played in since I’ve been here with this team. We have to do well.”