COLUMBUS, Ohio – A pair of teams separated by just one point in the Eastern Conference standings will meet in a pivotal showdown on Saturday night as the New England Revolution visits the Columbus Crew.
The Revs (6-7-6, 24 pts.) and Crew (6-8-5, 23 pts.) – which enter the weekend in sixth and seventh place in the East, respectively – will get underway at 7:30 p.m. from Crew Stadium. Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub will carry the game regionally.
Current Form: Revs look to snap season’s first two-game skid; Crew coming off bye
Saturday night rounds out a busy three-games-in-eight-days stretch for the Revs, which has started with a pair of 2-1 losses to the Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids. It’s the first time this season the Revs have dropped back-to-back league matches and after a disappointing midweek performance in Colorado, they’re eager to get things turned around this weekend at Crew Stadium.
“We can’t let that happen again,” said rookie midfielder Scott Caldwell. “It’s the first time this year (we’ve lost two in a row), but it’s essential to get points in this game. It’s an Eastern Conference opponent. Really, we don’t want to slip any further down the table, so this game is very important for the rest of the season.”
Columbus hasn’t played a league match since July 7, when an early goal from Bernardo Anor helped the Crew snap the Portland Timbers’ 15-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at Crew Stadium. That victory ended the Crew’s own three-game losing streak, which saw Robert Warzycha’s team slide out of playoff position.
Past Meetings: Victory last September snapped lengthy winless run vs. the Crew
The Revs and Crew last met at Gillette Stadium in September of last year, when New England snapped a pair of lengthy winless runs with a 2-0 victory. Not only was it the Revolution’s first win over the Crew in seven tries – dating back to the start of the 2010 season – but it also put an end to New England’s club-record 10-game winless streak.
The last time these two sides met in Columbus was a wild affair, as the Revs raced out to a 2-0 lead only to find themselves trailing 3-2 by halftime. Lee Nguyen knotted things up with a late penalty kick, but Jairo Arrieta had one more response as his 86th-minute goal lifted the Crew to a 4-3 victory.
Injury Report: Revs hopeful Sene and Tierney will return; McCarthy questionable
Dimitry Imbongo – who scored the Revolution’s game winner in the most recent meeting with the Crew – is eligible to return on Saturday night after serving a one-game suspension against the Rapids, while the Revs are also hopeful Saer Sene (R hip contusion) and Chris Tierney (L knee irritation) could be ready to face the Crew after missing the midweek trip to Colorado.
“They were working with our (athletic) trainers and trying to get them back,” head coach Jay Heaps said of the injured duo. “Wednesday was too quick a turnaround from last Saturday, but we’re hoping to have them available for (this) Saturday.”
Center back Stephen McCarthy could also be available this weekend after leaving Wednesday night’s match with a head laceration – which has landed him as questionable on the injury report – but the Revs are taking every precaution considering the nature of head injuries.
“I think he’s doing okay,” Heaps said of McCarthy. “He took a lot of stitches, which they did at halftime. Unfortunately he took a blind ball to the face (in the second half). We just have to be cautious with those kinds of things. With Macca in particular, he’s had a couple (concussions) in his past. I don’t think this was a concussion at all, but I think you’ve got to be smart and be ahead of it.”
One familiar face who won’t be roaming the midfield for Columbus is veteran Eddie Gaven, currently recovering from ACL surgery after suffering a tear during a U.S. Open Cup match. A similar fate befell center back Glauber, who is also recovering from ACL surgery.
Arrieta won’t have the chance to repeat his late heroics from last season as the Crew’s Costa Rican forward is currently on national team duty during the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Final Thoughts: Revs aim to make major improvements after subpar showing in Colorado
“I think we just have to do a better job with in-game adjustments,” said Caldwell. “As players, we have to realize that if something’s not working, if something’s not clicking, someone has to step up and be the person to make it better, get the ball rolling and improve.”