A.J. Soares vs. Seattle Sounders FC

Home-stand kicks off against Seattle

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution begins a season-long three-game home-stand to close out the 2011 home schedule on Saturday, Oct. 1, when the club hosts Western Conference foe Seattle Sounders FC at Gillette Stadium.

The Revs (5-13-12, 27 pts.) and Sounders (15-6-9, 54 pts.) will get underway at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England, while the radio call will be available on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Current Form: Revs aim to finish season strong; Sounders rounding out 10-day road trip

Despite last weekend’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park, the Revs have yet to be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention based on potential tie-breaker scenarios. However, should the Revolution fail to defeat the Sounders on Saturday night – or if the New York Red Bulls gain at least a draw at Toronto FC on Saturday night, or if the Portland Timbers defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday afternoon – the club’s playoff hopes would be officially dashed.

Regardless of the scenarios, the Revs are focused on putting together a string of quality performances during their current home-stand, which also includes matches against the San Jose Earthquakes (Oct. 8) and Columbus Crew (Oct. 15).

“It’s important that we finish our last three or four games and try to get wins, try to pick up points and finish our season on a good note,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “It’s a tough position to be in right now, but we just have to win out our games and hopefully something good will happen to us.”

At the opposite end of the table, the Sounders have already clinched a spot in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs and are currently one of the league’s hottest teams with a 5-1-1 record in their last seven regular-season matches. Perhaps most impressive about Seattle’s run this season has been the club’s away form, as the Sounders have picked up a league-best seven wins on the road.

Sigi Schmid’s side arrives in Foxborough at the tail end of a grueling 10-day road trip which began last weekend in Vancouver and continued midweek in Guatemala City, where the Sounders secured their place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals courtesy of a 2-2 draw with Comunicaciones. Meanwhile, Seattle is also preparing to host the U.S. Open Cup Final on Tuesday, Oct. 4, against the Fire.

Past Meetings: Revs looking to stay perfect against Sounders at Gillette Stadium

In the first meeting between these two sides on June 26, Sainey Nyassi gave the Revs an early lead with a third-minute strike, but the Sounders responded twice before halftime through Tyson Wahl and Alvaro Fernandez en route to a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field.

While the loss was the Revolution’s second straight setback in Seattle, Steve Nicol’s club has experienced nothing but success when the Sounders have visited Gillette Stadium. The Revs have erased 1-0 deficits to claim victory in both previous meetings in Foxborough, most recently in a 3-1 triumph behind second-half goals from Chris Tierney, Marko Perovic and Kheli Dube on Sept. 4, 2010.

Injury Report: Cochrane, Soares, Zerka back for New England; Rosales out for Seattle

The Revs are expected to receive a boost in the injury department this week as both A.J. Soares (L adductor strain) and Monsef Zerka (L quad strain) are likely to return after the duo was upgraded to probable on Friday’s injury report. Also back in the fold is center back Ryan Cochrane, who has returned to the team after missing last weekend’s game in Chicago while attending to personal matters.

The injured trio of Rajko Lekic (L ankle sprain), Stephen McCarthy (L shoulder surgery) and Nyassi (R hamstring strain) are still out, and they’ll be joined on the sidelines by Franco Coria, unavailable this weekend while serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Seattle’s lengthy injury list includes a pair of former Revs in James Riley (concussion) and Pat Noonan (adductor strain), both of whom were listed as questionable on Tuesday. The Sounders’ biggest absence, however, will be Argentine playmaker Mauro Rosales (R knee MCL sprain), who’s notched five goals and 12 assists in his first MLS season.

Key Player: Revolution defender A.J. Soares

Along with right back Kevin Alston, Soares has been one of the steadiest presences on the Revolution’s backline during his rookie season, starting every game for which he’s been available and playing the full 90 minutes in all but one. With Soares sidelined by the aforementioned groin injury for last weekend’s game in Chicago, the Revs struggled defensively in the early stages and fell into a 2-0 hole inside the opening 10 minutes.

Including the two games he missed because of suspension earlier this season, the Revs are now 0-3-0 and have conceded eight goals when Soares is out of the lineup. The 22-year-old could be vital in shoring up the Revolution’s backline on Saturday night against Seattle as they aim to contain the most potent attack (49 goals) in the league.

Final Thoughts: Guy believes Revs will rise to the occasion in closing weeks

“I think we need to pull together some good performances and especially get some points,” said midfielder Ryan Guy, who is in the running for a second straight start after scoring his first two MLS goals last weekend against Chicago. “No one wants to be the bottom of the barrel and that’s unfortunately where we find ourselves right now.

“We’re playing some tough competition, but I think a lot of times in soccer, that’s when you pull out your best performances is when you’re playing the top teams,” he continued. “So I think coming into Saturday we’re really looking positive and looking to score some goals.”