FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Although D.C. United has been shut out in three of its first five games this season, the New England Revolution will be keenly aware of its opponent’s potential offensive firepower when the clubs battle on Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Four of United’s five total goals were scored in a 4-1 romp over FC Dallas two weeks ago at RFK Stadium as Maicon Santos (two goals, one assist), Danny Cruz (one goal, one assist), Nick DeLeon (one goal, one assist) and Dwayne De Rosario (two assists) combined to lead an offensive explosion. The Revs will have to be locked in on that particular group this weekend to prevent a similar outcome in Foxborough.
“It’s going to be important for us to make sure we handle their key players, because Nick DeLeon and De Rosario are starting to hit stride,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We have to be smart and make sure we defend what they do well and then make sure that we play our game. That’s what we have to do on Saturday.”
Heaps said he’s watched the film of United’s scoreless draw with Seattle Sounders FC last weekend “four or five times” and noted both teams had chances to claim the full three points. It’s likely Heaps paid particular attention to creative midfielder De Rosario, who took Major League Soccer by storm in the second half of last season en route to league MVP honors.
Much of the onus for tracking De Rosario will fall to his former midfield partner Clyde Simms, who spent seven seasons with D.C. before joining the Revolution in December. Having trained against him every day for much of last season, Simms is perhaps even more conscious than others of De Rosario’s abilities.
“One of the things Dwayne does well, he’s already thinking about going on the attacking end when the other team has the ball,” Simms said. “There are moments in the game – and he knows when they are – to be able to cheat a little bit defensively. His running off the ball is great and he makes runs in behind the forwards. So he’s a tough one. He’s one you have to pay attention to the entire game.”
The Revs have encountered high-powered attacks on a weekly basis in the early stages of the season, but D.C. United’s approach is unique, especially with a player like De Rosario who can carry his side on any given night.
“They’re a good team,” said left back Chris Tierney. “They present a new set of challenges that I’m not really sure we’ve faced yet. But we’re very confident. If we continue to progress and impose our style of play and continue to be sharp in the way we felt we have in the last three weeks, I think we should take care of business at home.”