MLS Regular Season | Match #31
New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew
Wednesday, October 4 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
English Talent: Kevin Egan (Play-by-Play), Kyndra de St. Aubin (Analyst)
Spanish Talent: Jose Hernandez (Play-by-Play), Pablo Marino (Analyst)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub (English); 1260 AM Nossa Radio (Portuguese)
Radio Talent: Brad Feldman (Play-by-Play), Charlie Davies (Analyst)
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New England Revolution
3rd in Eastern Conference (14-6-10, 52 pts.)
Last Result | 2-1 win over Charlotte FC
New England Revolution host their second game in four days with Wednesday’s visit of Columbus Crew. Having returned to winning ways with victory over Charlotte FC on Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 37,701, the Revs extended their impressive unbeaten home record to 11-0-4 in 2023. Dave Romney’s first MLS goal for the club clinched the points, as the center back nodded home on 85 minutes – 89 seconds after Karol Świderski had leveled for the visitors. Noel Buck was also on the scoresheet, opening the scoring with a sweet finish in Clint Peay's first win as interim head coach. The triumph saw the Revolution climb to third in the Eastern Conference with four regular season games remaining. The team sit just two points behind second-placed Orlando City SC with a game in hand. In the chase for homefield advantage in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, New England have played a game fewer than all other teams in the top six. Locking horns with four of the current top seven to complete their regular season schedule, the Revs face a stern test to secure a higher playoff seeding but will hope to achieve the feat, whilst building momentum in the run-up to the postseason tournament and maintaining their status as the only team to stand undefeated on their own turf.
5th in Eastern Conference (14-9-8, 50 pts.)
Last Result | 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union
Sitting just two points behind the Revolution in fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, Columbus have also punched their playoff ticket and enter this midweek clash as the league’s joint-highest scorers. Netting 62 goals their 31 games, they boast the most potent attack in MLS this term, averaging a league-best return of 2.00 goals per game. Since Leagues Cup, they have scored 17 goals in eight matches with forward Cucho Hernández starring. The Colombian #9 netted eight strikes last month alone to boost his tally to 25 MLS goal involvements for the year. Though the Crew head into Wednesday’s trip to Gillette Stadium on the back of successive 1-1 draws, the Ohio outfit are unbeaten in six of their last eight and are looking to overtake New England in the standings after the Revs had leapfrogged them with Saturday’s triumph over Charlotte. Wilfried Nancy’s side (who have tallied the same number of wins as the Revs this year with 14) are also eyeing homefield advantage in the playoffs with a notable record of 11-1-4 at Lower.com Field. They have only managed three victories on the road in 2023 but are unbeaten in two of their last three trips.
The midweek matchup will see another pair of MLS originals lock horns in the 89th meeting between the two sides in all competitions. New England have notched 29 wins, tying 20 matches, and have shaded fixtures on home turf with 28 games unbeaten against the Crew in Foxborough. The last five encounters have ended in stalemate, including the most recent meeting at Gillette Stadium – a 2-2 tie in May 2022. This season’s clash in Ohio resulted in a 1-1 draw, as Sean Zawadzki struck in the 98th-minute to cancel out a Miloš Degenek own goal. Adam Buksa was on the scoresheet in the Revs’ last win over Columbus in May 2021.
Overall Record vs. Columbus: 29-39-20
Home Record vs. Columbus: 19-17-9
Last meeting at Gillette Stadium: Revs 2, Crew 2 (May 7, 2022)
Last meeting at Lower.com Field: Revs 1, Crew 1 (April 15, 2023)
Revolution defender Dave Romney
With New England lining up against the league’s joint-highest scorers, the Revs’ defense are readying themselves for a potentially busy night. A clean sheet victory against the Crew's formidable firepower would issue a positive statement of the Revolution’s playoff credentials, and the backline will need to be organized and alert from the first whistle to the last. Through injury, suspension and international duty, the home side have struggled to maintain consistency at the back and have also been adapting to a new tactical switch (featuring inverted wing backs) under Clint Peay’s stewardship. Romney however has remained a constant through the campaign, completing every minute of MLS and Leagues Cup action. His influential showing against Charlotte rightly earned a spot in the Team of the Matchday, as the center back netted the game-winning goal and produced another solid display in defense, denying Scott Arfield with a crucial block and tallying a team-high seven clearances, four aerial duels and the second-highest number of accurate passes. Highly regarded by his coaches and peers for his dedication and reliability, the 30-year-old is now receiving the recognition he deserves, and will hope to finish a fine individual season with a flourish.
Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernández
Notching 17 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions in 2023, the Colombian forward heads into this encounter in sensational scoring form and very much in contention for the MLS Golden Boot prize. September saw the striker bag eight goals in just five appearances, including two hat-tricks in three games, which unsurprisingly saw him celebrated with two MLS Team of the Matchday inclusions. His 14 MLS goals this term mean the 24-year-old sits just one shy of top spot in the league’s scoring charts behind Luciano Acosta, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Hany Mukhtar with three regular season matches to play. He has also crafted just two assists fewer than Revolution captain Carles Gil. Cucho was on the scoresheet last time out in the Crew’s 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union, converting from the spot to salvage a point by sending Andre Blake the wrong way. In the process, the #9 notched his 25th league goal contribution of the campaign, becoming just the fourth Columbus player to have ever achieved the feat in a single season. Topping the rankings for goalscoring attempts leaguewide (137), the former Premier League and La Liga man will no doubt be one to watch as the visitors’ brightest creative spark.
New England Revolution
Goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík could be available for his first selection, while Ian Harkes is listed as questionable after missing Saturday’s win over Charlotte as a precaution with a head injury. Henry Kessler (hamstring) is continuing to make progress on the training field, but Damián Rivera is unavailable with a knee injury. Brandon Bye (ACL) and Dylan Borrero (knee) are long-term absentees.
Midfielder Sean Zawadzki could return for the Crew after missing the 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union due to yellow card accumulation, but defender Will Sands is sidelined for the remainder of the season with an ACL injury, last featuring in April.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution interim head coach Clint Peay on the win over Charlotte FC and the team’s progress:
“[The win] was good. I think ‘relief’ is a good word. We were all just looking for that ‘get over the hump’ game, and that was it. At this point, you just want to build from that, get confidence from it, and continue getting three points. Everyone wants to do well at home – you’re in front of your fans and you want to be able to get those points, so all these games are important, but especially the home games.
“[The team] are making progress in a positive way. There were some good stretches of quality possession that we were able to sustain in the game, but also that leads to chances. The whole goal is to create goal-scoring chances, be hard to play against, so overall, I’ve been pleased with how they’ve progressed.”
On Columbus Crew:
“They are a team that is very comfortable on the ball. They take calculated risks with the ball and move well through each other, so we’ve got to make sure defensively we’re sound and that we’re able to disrupt their possession. Then as it relates to us, just having longer spells when they’ll have the ball a lot – you want to make them defend a little bit. If we can do that, then we have a good shot at winning the game.”
On facing playoff challengers in the final four games as useful preparation for postseason:
“There’s a lot of parity. Things are tight right now. Obviously, we have a game in hand over a few teams, so we can at least put ourselves, for the rest of the week, to finish the week out in a good position if we can take care of business. These are, in the East, obviously some of the better teams and that’s what we expect to see in the playoffs. They’re all going to be difficult games and games that are important in terms of building your confidence as you head into the playoffs.”
New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell on the team’s mood after victory over Charlotte and Clint Peay’s first win in charge:
“It felt great. It was important for us after the long away trip that we had to get back home. [To get the win was] huge, just because of how the last month has been with all the ups and downs. We didn’t drop our heads, we stayed in it, and scored within a minute or two [of Charlotte’s equalizer]. It was a good reaction from the team, and being able to see it out after that was important. It was an important three points and the team felt really good about it.
“[Clint] has been good. We gave him the game-winning ball for his first win in the MLS. It felt good as a team to win, but I’m sure for him it felt good. He’s done a great job. The trainings have been great. We’d seen him around the building because he was with the second team, and we appreciate everything he’s done. Now seeing it firsthand has been great. The in-game adjustments that he makes, [especially] the last game, helped us a lot – being able to get on the ball more, creating more goal-scoring chances, and ultimately winning the game with DeJuan [Jones] switching to the left side and then Dave [Romney’s game winner]. Four games against four playoff teams, we have to get ready and get ready for the postseason.”
On the team’s mindset heading into the final four games of regular season and the tactical system in defense:
“We have to take as many points as we can. Obviously, the next four games are all against playoff teams, and teams that we’ll most likely see. Getting the confidence heading into the playoffs is important and having that momentum on your side, especially getting a higher seed and being able to play at home, where we’ve been really good and capitalize on the points. This week is huge against two really good teams, two of the higher teams in the league. It will be a big challenge. We’ll have to use a lot of guys but we’re excited for the challenge.
“[The new system] was good, I enjoyed it. We’ve been doing it in training, but that was the first time seeing it in live action. There was a little bit of an adjustment that we made in the first half, and then in the second half we made the adjustment of Matt [Polster] and DeJuan [Jones], which I think really helped us in the attack. Defensively it’s good. I like having a little bit more cover in front of the back four, back three with Matt inside. When we get hit on transitions, we have a little bit more security in front of the center backs. I really enjoy it, and I think as time goes on we’ll get more and more comfortable with it. I think all the guys are feeling comfortable with that system.”
On players returning from injury at a crucial time and everyone stepping up:
“It says a lot about this squad and the group of players that we have. [It’s about] the mentality of 'the next guy up' through some injuries. A lot of stuff is out of our control and the guys have done a good job of seeing that when things are out of our control, we just have to keep on doing what we do to put ourselves into the best position to succeed and go for a trophy. We’re there right now with [four] games left. We still want to get our form and play better, get a home game, and see how far we get before the postseason starts.
“We have a very deep team, [with] guys that are coming back from injury who have been crucial players to our team. [Gustavo] Bou getting minutes the last game, and Henry [Kessler] back in and most likely going to see some minutes at some point. It’s exciting, those guys are huge for us. The biggest thing is getting that momentum going heading into the postseason and those two guys help us with that.”
On how facing Columbus and other playoff teams can help the team's postseason preparation and the importance of homefield advantage:
“I think it’s huge. The last four games are against teams that are in the playoffs. They all have different strengths, and [pose] different challenges that they can give us. Columbus is going to be a big one. They’re a team that likes possession and have one of the highest scoring attacks in the league, and have one of the highest possession [rates]. It’ll be good for us to create that momentum against teams we’ll most likely be seeing in the playoffs.
“We know we’re a pretty good team [at home], and have done well there this year to get three points, and put ourselves in a pretty good spot with four games left in the season. Homefield advantage is going to be important, especially with this year’s playoffs and how it works out. Whenever we step on the field at home, we know we can put out a good product for the fans but get the result that we want to have. With playoffs approaching and teams knowing that they must come into our place to play, it gives us a little bit of an edge. We want to keep that going. We have two games remaining at home, hopefully we can finish it out.”
New England Revolution forward Bobby Wood on the team spirit after victory against Charlotte and working with Clint Peay:
“I think it was great for the team. It was a hard-fought win. What was good was that even though we got scored on in the last 10 minutes, we still came back. In the past games, we didn’t. That’s a good step forward and we just have to continue with it.
“We have a great coach right now. We have a great staff, we have a great team. With everybody coming back healthy, we’re just going to get stronger. We have to take small steps forward for the playoffs and that’s what matters.”
On returning to the starting XI on Saturday and other players coming back into contention:
“I want to help the team as much as possible. That’s always good, especially as a striker. I should’ve finished two goals [last Saturday] but we still got the win. That was a good relief that the team helped me out there. Right now, a lot of guys are coming back from injury. I think things have settled after everything that has happened. Us as a group, we’re focused on winning. Things will continue to get better.”
On the team’s run to the playoffs and the importance of homefield advantage:
“The table is tight. We have to take it one game at a time. You see how one loss, one win, things switch very quick. We have to focus on the Columbus game right now, not look so much at the standings. We have to get the win at home and that’s what we’re focused on.
“It’s a good challenge for sure. We can see what we need to improve on. We’ll take it one step at a time and see what happens. Being at home is our main goal. We saw that [FC] Cincinnati already clinched the Supporters’ Shield. Right now, we’re just focusing on getting that homefield advantage and using that strength for us.”