Fresh Faces, Familiar Foe: Revolution preparing to face revamped D.C. United

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In preparation for Saturday night’s clash between the New England Revolution and D.C. United, you might want to bookmark United’s roster page as a handy reference.

That’s because D.C.’s new-look lineup is almost unrecognizable when compared to last season, when the club infamously established a new MLS record for fewest wins in a season (three). United’s overhaul was massive; a total of 13 players have been added since the end of the 2013 campaign, seven of whom appeared for D.C. in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire.

“It’s a whole new squad,” noted Revs left back Chris Tierney. “They’ve got some new, dangerous attacking players in and they’ve got some experience across their backline, so they’ve made a lot of positive changes.”

Chief among those changes were a bevy of intra-league moves for experienced MLS veterans. Up front D.C. has added Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) and Fabian Espindola (New York Red Bulls). In the midfield, there’s former Montreal Impact captain Davy Arnaud. And three of United’s four starting defenders last weekend plied their trades with different MLS clubs in 2013: Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo), Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy) and Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union).

It makes for an interesting dynamic for Revolution head coach Jay Heaps and his staff as they prepare to battle United this weekend. Heaps is familiar with the individuals his side will be facing at RFK Stadium, but he hasn’t often seen them operate as a group.

“I’ve been watching them from the beginning of the year,” Heaps said. “I know a lot of their players, but I’ve never seen them together on the same field. I think that they’re a pretty dynamic team and a team that will present a lot of problems.”

There is an element of mystery with such a new squad, but Heaps does know that United will operate somewhat differently than last weekend’s opponent, the San Jose Earthquakes. That will alter the Revolution’s preparation in some ways, but after seeing his side clinch a dramatic victory at Buck Shaw Stadium last Saturday, Heaps doesn’t want the Revs reinventing the wheel.

“I think the game plan will change,” he said. “But mentally, how we approach the game, we want to keep it the same.”