Rivalry renewed as Revs host D.C. United

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One of Major League Soccer’s longest-standing rivalries resumes for the 2012 season series on Saturday, April 14, when the New England Revolution hosts D.C. United in an afternoon clash at Gillette Stadium.

Kickoff between the Revs (2-3-0, 6 pts.) and United (1-2-2, 5 pts.) is set for 4 p.m. and the match 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 HD2.

Current Form: Lessons learned for Revs in late loss at FCD; D.C. off to inconsistent start

With nine days between games, the Revs have had plenty of time to reflect upon their heartbreaking loss at FC Dallas Stadium, where Ugo Ihemelu’s goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time prevented the Revolution from picking up a fourth point on its two-game road trip. But instead of dwelling upon the 1-0 loss, the Revs used the game’s final sequence as a learning experience as they prepare to move forward with the rest of the season.

REVOLUTION (2-3-0) VS. D.C. UNITED (1-2-2)
TV: Comcast SportsNet
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2
ONLINE: MLS Live (video), revolutionsoccer.net (audio)

“It was a little bit of a sucker punch at the end, but you have to see games through in this league and unfortunately we didn’t do that,” said Chris Tierney. “Hopefully we learned our lesson and I don’t think we’re going to give up any last-second free kicks for a while.”

A draw against FCD would’ve extended the Revolution’s unbeaten streak to three games, which matches United’s current run after opening the season with back-to-back losses. Granted, D.C.’s modest three-game streak includes a pair of scoreless draws, but those results were sandwiched around a 4-1 thumping of FC Dallas in which United displayed its potential offensive firepower.

Past Meetings: Five straight wins for Revs over Eastern Conference rival

While the Revs had their two-game winning streak snapped last Thursday night at FC Dallas, they’ll have the chance to extend their winning streak over D.C. United to six games on Saturday afternoon.

The Revs have won five straight regular-season meetings with D.C. dating back to 2009 and added a sixth victory in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match last April. At Gillette Stadium the Revs have strung together four straight wins over United, which hasn’t picked up a point in Foxborough since a 2-2 draw in May 2008.

Injury Report: Revs getting healthier but lose Joseph through suspension

The trio of Kevin Alston (L hamstring tightness), Matt Reis (L knee swelling) and Clyde Simms (R calf tightness) was upgraded to probable on Friday’s injury report and all three are likely to be available on Saturday afternoon. Benny Feilhaber (L peroneal strain) could also be in the running for a place on the game day roster as the playmaker was upgraded to questionable after training throughout the week.

Feilhaber has missed the past three games and is likely short of full match fitness, but the 27-year-old is anxious to get back on the field as soon as possible.

“We just want to make sure that he’s coming back at the right pace,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He wants to get out there. It’s good. It’s good to have guys who want to get out onto the field any way they can.”

Flo Lechner (R fifth metatarsal fracture) and Jeremiah White (headache) will both miss this weekend’s game through injury, while captain Shalrie Joseph will also be sidelined while serving a one-game suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for a tackle on Ricardo Villar in the loss to FC Dallas.

United will be without defender Ethan White (R knee surgery) and midfielder Lance Rozeboom (L ACL tear), but goalkeeper Bill Hamid (L ankle sprain/bone bruising) is expected to make the trip after missing time following an injury in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. Second-year man Joe Willis has staked his claim to the starting goalkeeper role in Hamid’s absence, recording two shutouts in four appearances.

Key Player: Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms

The spotlight will be on Simms for any number of reasons on Saturday afternoon.

Simms is facing his former club for the first time after spending seven seasons in D.C. and he’ll be eager to continue his bright start which has earned praise from both coaches and teammates. Fittingly, his presence in the Revolution’s central midfield is of particular importance this weekend because of Joseph’s absence, which leaves Simms as the likely midfield general and the prime candidate to track 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario.

“Without [Shalrie] it definitely leaves a hole for us,” said center back A.J. Soares. “But guys can step up. We’ve got Clyde, who’s doing a great job, and we expect him to have a huge game again, just like he’s been having.”

Calf tightness forced Simms off the field late in New England’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas, but the 29-year-old workhorse monitored the injury throughout the week and expects to be on the field when the whistle blows on Saturday afternoon.

Final Thoughts: More than just three points on offer when the Revs battle D.C. United

“You can just feel it this week coming up to the game,” Soares said of the extra edge when D.C. comes to town. “Really, it’s just one more game, but there is a rivalry there and we know they’re going to have fans at the game. It’s a big game for us. We have to win the game and we know that. They’re doing well right now and hopefully we can shut them down and play our game on our home field for our fans.”