Season’s midway point arrives as Revolution hosts San Jose Earthquakes

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will hit the midway point of its 2013 regular-season schedule on Saturday night when the 2012 Supporters Shield champion San Jose Earthquakes visit Gillette Stadium.

Kickoff between the Revs (5-5-6, 21 pts.) and Earthquakes (5-8-6, 21 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m., with a postgame fireworks show to follow the action on the field. Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub will carry the game regionally.

Current Form: Revs happy to return home; Earthquakes closing out road trip

The Revolution spent last week on the road, visiting D.C. United in the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Open Cup before heading directly to the West Coast for a regular-season meeting with Chivas USA. The Revs were eliminated from the Open Cup with a 3-1 loss to United, but did salvage a point from Saturday night’s visit to StubHub Center when late substitute Chad Barrett scored a dramatic 88th-minute equalizer.

After a torrid one-month stretch in which the Revs went 5-0-1 through all competitions, they’ve hit a minor blip with two losses and a draw in their last three matches. But despite the recent hiccup, Barrett believes the Revs haven’t been far off from continuing their strong run of form.

“I don’t think it’s been a real bad slide,” he said. “We’ve definitely dropped points. (The regular-season meeting with) D.C. we should’ve won. They came in with a good defensive strategy. Chivas we should’ve won. And Vancouver we would’ve won if (Andrew) Farrell doesn’t get red carded and get sent off … We’re definitely not sliding. The team morale’s still good.”

Just as the Revs did last week, the Earthquakes have spent this week on the road, visiting the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night and suffering a 3-2 loss at Toyota Park. But San Jose has experienced an uptick in form recently – winning two of three before the midweek loss – due in part to the recent appointment of Mark Watson as interim head coach. Watson, who took over from longtime head coach Frank Yallop, spent time in New England both as a player (1996) and temporary assistant coach (2009).

Past Meetings: Revs winless against Earthquakes in past three seasons

The Revs and Earthquakes haven’t met since the 2012 season opener – almost 16 months ago – in Jay Heaps’ professional coaching debut. Chris Wondolowski scored the only goal that night to lift San Jose to a 1-0 win.

It was the Revolution’s third consecutive loss in the series and extended the club’s winless run against the Earthquakes to five games (0-4-1) dating back through the 2010 season.

Overall, New England is just 3-5-1 against San Jose since the Earthquakes rejoined MLS in 2008.

Injury Report: Agudelo remains sidelined by knee sprain; trio missing for San Jose

Revolution forward Juan Agudelo will miss his second straight game with a right knee sprain, suffered in last week’s Open Cup meeting with D.C. United. There is no definitive timetable for his return, but the dynamic striker is expected to miss a period of games.

With Agudelo out, Jerry Bengtson earned the start last weekend at StubHub Center and the Honduran striker remains an option against San Jose along with Barrett, Dimitry Imbongo and Saer Sene.

Barrett has made his case in recent weeks with two goals and one assist in his last three substitute appearances, including last weekend’s late equalizer against Chivas USA.

“With Juan going down, there’s a vacancy out there that needs to be filled,” said Barrett. “He was doing a fantastic job before he got hurt and we’re going to struggle to get on without him, but we definitely have the firepower on this team to score goals … We’ve proven that many people on this team can score goals. I’m one of them and I want to prove it.”

San Jose will be missing a trio of key pieces on Saturday night, all for different reasons. Reigning league MVP Chris Wondolowski will be absent while on duty with the U.S. National Team, while 2012 MLS Defender of the Year finalist Victor Bernardez is suspended because of yellow-card accumulation. Steven Lenhart – who bagged 10 goals last season – is unlikely to feature after suffering a head contusion in last weekend’s dramatic victory over the LA Galaxy.

Final Thoughts: Revs preparing for Earthquakes, but keeping focus on themselves

“We know San Jose is an excellent come-from-behind team,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “They’re also an excellent go-ahead team. You’ve got to prepare for what they do well. They’ve got two strong forwards, they’re excellent on second balls, they’re excellent on set pieces and they’re excellent on crosses.

“So you have to be prepared for what they do, but for me, this week is about what we can do well, the things we’re good at and the things we need to take advantage of when we’re playing against not just San Jose, but any team.”