FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Eastern Conference playoff race hits new heights on Saturday night when the fifth-place New England Revolution hosts the fourth-place Houston Dynamo in both teams’ final game of September.
New England (11-11-7, 40 pts.) and Houston (12-10-7, 43 pts.) are separated by just three points entering the weekend, meaning a Revs victory would lift them over the Dynamo into fourth place on a tiebreaker.
Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. Both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub will provide regional coverage.
Current Form: Both sides looking to stay above the red line as the playoff race heats up
After a three-game winless run (0-2-1) saw them temporarily drop out of the playoff places, the Revs rebounded with an absolutely vital win over D.C. United last weekend to climb back into fifth place. It took a spirited effort to do so, as the Revs overcame an early own goal and a missed penalty kick to come from behind and down United.
“It’s not exactly how you draw it up,” head coach Jay Heaps said after New England’s unconventional 2-1 victory. “I thought it was a really good turnaround. We had a good conversation at halftime and in the second half I thought we really took the game and created a lot of chances.”
Houston maintained a three-point gap between itself and the Revolution with a critical home victory of its own last weekend. After scoring just three goals during a rough five-game stretch (1-3-1), Dominic Kinnear’s side exploded for five goals in a 5-1 win over Chivas USA. Both Giles Barnes and Boniek Garcia scored twice in the win.
Past Meetings: Rubber match on tap after each team managed victory on the road
The Revs and Dynamo have split the first two meetings of the 2013 season series, but not in typical fashion.
New England became – at the time – only the second visiting team to ever win at BBVA Compass Stadium when Fagundez and Juan Agudelo scored to lift the Revs to a 2-0 victory on May 18.
Houston returned the favor two months later when former Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat – now with Seattle Sounders FC – struck twice from distance to propel the visitors to a 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium.
What both games did have in common was red cards; Revolution forward Dimitry Imbongo was ejected from both matches, while Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell saw red in the first meeting at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Injury Report: Agudelo potentially ready to return after increasing workload this week
After missing last weekend’s win over D.C. while struggling with a balky hamstring, Agudelo could be ready to return for Saturday night’s pivotal meeting with the Dynamo.
The influential forward remains questionable ahead of the weekend, but Agudelo did increase his workload in training throughout the week, leaving both the player and Heaps hopeful he could play a part against Houston.
“He’s done so well for us,” Heaps said of his young forward. “We have a special confidence when we’re on the field with him. We haven’t dropped many points when he’s been on the pitch for us. You want him to play, but at the same time, you don’t want to see any more setbacks because we need him over these next five games and into the playoffs.”
Final Thoughts: Farrell says the Revs are ready to “roll up the sleeves and get after it”
“It’s a team that’s not going to back down,” rookie right back Andrew Farrell said of the Dynamo. “They’re a great, veteran team. They’ve been in spots like this countless times before and you’ve just got to roll up the sleeves and get after it. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play a team like that, because it’s preparing us for the playoffs. It’s going to be a good one.”