SEATTLE, Wash. – The New England Revolution will reach the halfway point of its 2011 regular-season schedule this weekend when the club visits red-hot Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday, June 26, at the recently renamed CenturyLink Field. Sunday’s game kicks off a stretch in which the Revs will play five of their next six league matches on the road.
The Revs (3-7-6, 15 pts.) and Sounders (7-4-7, 28 pts.) will get underway at 4 p.m. ET with Comcast SportsNet New England televising the match live in high definition and 98.5 The Sports Hub handling the radio call.
Current Form: Back-to-back draws help Revs snap losing skid; Sounders unbeaten in five
Solid defensive performances helped the Revolution secure a pair of low-scoring draws in last week’s brief home-stand against Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire, but the Revs continued to struggle in the goal-scoring department and are now winless (0-4-2) since a 1-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in mid-May.
Danish striker Rajko Lekic snapped an eight-game goalless run with the game-tying strike against Chicago, but despite a noticeable increase in scoring chances in recent weeks, the Revs have been limited to just two goals in their last five games.
“We want to carry on creating the way we have done the last two or three weeks, but obviously have the end product, as well,” head coach Steve Nicol said about his side’s objective in the Emerald City. “Just concentrate on trying to keep that going.”
Second-half substitute Roger Levesque scored a pair of late goals to help the Sounders extend their unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) with an entertaining 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field. The victory vaulted Seattle into a tie with FC Dallas for second place in both the Western Conference and overall league standings.
Past Meetings: Revolution has won three of first four meetings with Sounders
With three wins in four previous meetings with Sounders FC, the Revs are one of just three teams with an all-time winning record against Seattle. Only the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA have managed a similar amount of success against the Sounders since they entered the league as an expansion team in 2009.
The Sounders’ only victory in the series came in the clubs’ last meeting in the Pacific Northwest, when a trio of first-half goals from Leo Gonzalez, Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero lifted Seattle to a 3-0 win on June 5, 2010. New England’s Chris Tierney, Marko Perovic and Kheli Dube returned the favor in the second half of the Revolution’s 3-1 victory at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 4, 2010.
Injury Report: Cochrane, Feilhaber return for New England; Sounders missing pair through suspension
Both Ryan Cochrane (L hamstring strain) and Benny Feilhaber (R ankle sprain) are poised to return from their respective injuries this weekend after the Revolution duo was listed as probable on Friday’s injury report. Cochrane missed only last weekend’s draw with the Chicago Fire, while Feilhaber has been unavailable since suffering his injury late against the LA Galaxy on May 28.
Not quite as lucky is the injured quartet of Ousmane Dabo (R quad strain), Didier Domi (R Achilles tendonitis), Tierney (L foot contusion) and Stephen McCarthy (L shoulder subluxation), all four of whom remained in Foxborough to continue their recoveries.
Long-term injury victims O’Brian White (L leg surgery) and Zakuani (R leg fracture) will be missing for Seattle, but perhaps more importantly, starting central midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and left back Gonzalez will be unavailable while serving one-game suspensions because of yellow-card accumulation.
Key Player: Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber
Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Feilhaber will play a critical role for the Revolution upon his return from the right ankle sprain which has forced the 26-year-old to miss the last four games.
While struggling to convert a wealth of scoring chances in recent weeks, Nicol has lamented his side’s inability to find the finishing touch in front of goal. In his postgame comments following last weekend’s draw with Chicago, Nicol said the Revs were simply lacking an extra dose of quality and composure in the final third, two attributes Feilhaber can provide in spades.
“He’ll be on the field at some stage, that’s for sure,” Nicol said of Feilhaber’s involvement on Sunday. “Obviously he’s got talent and you always want your talented players on the field.”
Final Thoughts: Nicol looking for more of the same defensively … and a little something extra offensively
After conceding a league-high 50 goals last season, the Revolution has significantly improved on the defensive side of the ball in 2011 en route to a 1.19 goals against average. New England’s stinginess has been most apparent the past two months, as the Revs have conceded more than one goal just twice in their last eight games.
But they’ve scored more than a single goal just twice this season and have a league-low 12 goals through 16 games. As such, there are no secrets as to what the Revs need to improve upon moving forward.
“I think if you look at the table and you look at the goals against and the goals for, we’re certainly above average defensively, but we’re below average as far as putting the ball in the net,” said Nicol. “So I think it’s pretty clear that we just have to try and get better at it. That’s the bottom line.”