PORTLAND, Ore. – It all comes down to one more opportunity for the New England Revolution to put their preseason work to the test.
The Revs will kick off on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, stream on revolutionsoccer.net) in their final preseason match against the Portland Timbers. These 90-minutes will act as a trial run before the Revs ship back to the East Coast to prepare for their season opener against the Montreal Impact on February 29.
“I think that we need to be locked in for 90 minutes,” said veteran Teal Bunbury. “This is the penultimate game before the season starts, so guys have to be locked in.
“We have to be aggressive. Obviously, we have to be smart and not have any injuries and things like that, but we’ve got to go hard. We’ve got to implement the past little over a month of work that we put in in preparation for the first game of the season.”
New England has built a strong fitness foundation over the past six weeks. Heading into Saturday’s match, twelve players have gone a full 90-minutes in preseason game settings – including Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, Matt Turner, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye, Cristian Penilla, Michael Mancienne, Seth Sinovic, Henry Kessler, Justin Rennicks, Tajon Buchanan and Simon Lekressner.
“I think in the first two games, we had gotten a number of players getting 90 minutes and that will help us as we enter the regular season,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “On Saturday we’re going to play closer to a first-choice lineup.”
On top of that, the team has honed in on their tactics and technical abilities, and their showdown against Portland is an opportunity to combine the two elements.
“It’s our first game leading into our real [regular season] game so obviously we want to get everything right tomorrow,” said DeJuan Jones. “ [We’re looking to] just be safe defensively [and] make sure our backline is tight.”
“Attacking wise, we just want to finish our chances and create a lot of chances. Then, just dominate the midfield, create space for ourselves and just play good soccer.”
The Portland Timbers, like the Revs, have played two games in the preseason tournament presented by Old Trapper Beef Jerky. The Timbers won their first match over the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1, and are coming off of a 4-2 loss to Minnesota United on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, New England finished with honors even in a 2-2 draw against Minnesota United and fell to Vancouver 2-0 on Wednesday.
Both the Revolution and the Timbers featured young starting elevens on Wednesday night. Likely both teams will feature a group closer to who they will play in their lineup for season opener as they look to head into the regular season on a high.
The Revs’ are eager for this test after putting in relentless work during preseason.
“We’re just looking at tomorrow to have a good culmination of all this hard work we put in during preseason,” said Jones. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The Revs will square off against the Timbers at 8 p.m. ET at Providence Park. There will be a live stream provided here.