FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Looking to build upon last weekend’s season-opening 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, the New England Revolution returns to action this Saturday, March 26, when the club opens its 2011 home schedule against Eastern Conference rival D.C. United.
Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 4:30 p.m. and fans can watch the action live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England. The radio call will be available on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Saturday’s match will be the earliest home opener in Revolution history, as the club has played only one previous regular-season home game – the 2008 season opener against the Houston Dynamo on March 29 – in the month of March.
Current Form: Both sides looking to build momentum following impressive results
Overcoming a slew of obstacles – injuries to a trio of projected starters and a treacherous Southern California rain storm, for instance – the Revs battled their way to a 1-1 draw with the Galaxy last Sunday at The Home Depot Center. Shalrie Joseph got the Revolution’s season off to a perfect start with a goal less than three minutes into the match, and although Juninho leveled the score with a long-range rocket in the 39th minute, the Revs’ revamped backline held firm to claim a valuable point.
Charlie Davies made a triumphant return to the field at RFK Stadium, coming off the bench to score a pair of goals and lead a new-look D.C. United side to a convincing 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew last weekend. United will arrive in Foxborough full of confidence on the back of that performance and will be looking to gain an early foothold in the Eastern Conference with a string of positive results.
Past Meetings: Revs look to maintain recent dominance over D.C.
The Revs earned a pair of shutout victories over D.C. United in the 2010 regular season, extending their unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1) over United since the start of the 2009 campaign. Kenny Mansally – who will be unavailable for Saturday’s match while on national team duty with Gambia – came off the bench to score both goals in the Revolution’s 2-0 win at RFK Stadium on April 3, 2010, while Pat Phelan’s first career goal was enough to lift New England to a 1-0 victory in the return fixture on Aug. 7.
Injury Report: Alston, Domi set to return for the Revolution; Perovic to miss out
Both Kevin Alston (L hamstring strain) and Didier Domi (R knee swelling) missed the Revolution’s season-opening draw with the Galaxy last weekend, but the duo has since recovered and will be available for selection this weekend against D.C. United. Central midfielder Ousmane Dabo (R quad strain) is likely one more week away from making his MLS debut for the Revs, however, while last year’s leading scorer, Marko Perovic, has been ruled out with a left hamstring strain.
Defender Jed Zayner (L hamstring strain) will not make the trip for D.C., while rookie sensation Perry Kitchen will also be unavailable while on duty with the U.S. Under-20 National Team. Both Zayner and Kitchen started on United’s backline in last weekend’s win over Columbus.
Key Matchup: Revolution’s central defenders vs. United’s forwards
A rejuvenated Josh Wolff put together a man-of-the-match type performance in his first appearance for D.C. United last weekend, scoring the club’s first goal and threatening throughout his 83-minute stint. Whether Wolff is partnered by Davies or Joseph Ngwenya this weekend, the veteran will likely be full of confidence and eager to continue his fast start.
Tasked with the duty of slowing United’s forward line will be the Revolution’s young center back pairing of Franco Coria and A.J. Soares. Both just 22 years old, Coria and Soares made their MLS debuts last weekend against the Galaxy and despite a couple shaky moments, generally looked rock-solid at the back.
Final Thoughts: Another fast start critical as the Revs look to stifle United
After riding Joseph’s third-minute goal to a positive result last weekend at The Home Depot Center, the Revs will once again be looking to get out on the front foot.
“I think a lot of people had a misconception that we were kind of playing a bunker-down, hold-on-for-the-win [style],” said Phelan of last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the Galaxy. “I don’t think a lot of teams go out to LA and out-possess them on their home field.
“We wanted to attack, we just didn’t have the quality or the patience to do that,” he continued. “I think this weekend we’re going to look to improve upon that and really start out well like we did last week, take it to them and put them on their heels.”