CARSON, Calif. – The New England Revolution goes in search of a fresh start on Wednesday night as the second half of the 2014 season begins with a visit to the LA Galaxy.
Kickoff between the Revs (7-8-2, 23 pts.) and Galaxy (6-3-6, 24 pts.) is set for 10:30 p.m. ET from StubHub Center, with both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub covering the action.
Current Form: Revs see second half of 2014 as a clean slate; Galaxy unbeaten in seven
With 17 regular-season games down and 17 more on the docket, Wednesday night’s visit to StubHub Center officially kicks off the second half of the Revolution’s 2014 season. Mentally it offers a chance for the Revs to put their recent struggles – five straight losses – behind them and move forward into the home stretch.
“We understand the last couple games have really been difficult, but each loss has been, in and of itself, a different circumstance,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “That said, 17 games in we’re in a position where we control our destiny going into the second 17 games. I look at it as a restart and a new season starting today.”
Heaps isn’t completely writing off New England’s five-game losing streak, however, admitting there are multiple areas in which his side needs to improve going into the season’s second half. Chief among those continues to be the club’s Achilles heel of conceding the first goal early in matches.
“That’s a real problem, but it’s not something you can just say, ‘OK, stop letting in goals.’ It’s not something that simple,” Heaps said. “The key is to make sure that we’re approaching each game with that mindset, knowing that that’s a time when we’re vulnerable and an area where we have to get better.”
Conversely, LA has scored first in each of its last three matches as part of a seven-game unbeaten run (4-0-3) in league play. The Galaxy’s true strength is in its depth, as Robbie Keane (7G, 4A), Landon Donovan (3G, 4A), Gyasi Zardes (4G, 1A) and Stefan Ishizaki (2G, 3A) spearhead a potent attack.
“You have to respect LA,” said Heaps. “They’re probably, for me, if not the best team, one of the best teams in the league. They’re dangerous from all over the place and we have to respect that and find ways to show our strengths, as well.”
Past Meetings: Revs hoping to replicate recent success against the Galaxy
Since dropping three straight to LA between 2009 and 2010, New England has turned the tables in this series, going 3-1-1 in the last five meetings spanning the past four years.
Revolution fans will fondly remember the last time these two sides squared off as five different players scored to lead New England to a 5-0 rout of the Galaxy on national television. Young guns Diego Fagundez (1G, 2A) and Kelyn Rowe (1G, 2A) had breakout performances as the Revs rolled to a memorable victory in Foxborough.
New England also found success on its last visit to the Galaxy more than two years ago, riding goals from Rowe (the first of his MLS career), Chris Tierney and Saer Sene to a comfortable 3-1 win.
Injury Report: Dorman sidelined by knee injury suffered last weekend against Chicago
The knee injury which forced Andy Dorman off the field midway through the first half of last weekend’s loss to the Chicago Fire will unfortunately also keep him out for the foreseeable future. The injury – suffered under a challenge from Fire defender Bakary Soumare – was officially diagnosed as a sprained MCL.
Scott Caldwell replaced Dorman for the final 60 minutes of that meeting with the Fire and looked sharp in his first league appearance since mid-May, making him a potential option from the start against the Galaxy.
“I thought Scottie did a great job,” Heaps said after Saturday’s game. “Scottie came in and had no warm-up time and went in and was really chomping and biting and trying to make plays.”
As for the Galaxy, Bruce Arena’s side boasts a league-best defense (13 goals conceded) despite the absence of two contributors along the backline. Former Revolution defender James Riley is likely to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus, while Todd Dunivant is currently sidelined by an abdominal strain.
Final Thoughts: Revs prepared to “will the ball into the goal” to snap out of scoring funk
“It’s just on us as players,” forward Patrick Mullins said when asked what the Revs need to do in order to snap their recent scoring funk. “If it takes willing the ball into the goal or doing a gritty play, we need to make that breakthrough. I think we have ability to play, but sometimes when you need a goal, you just need to find it any way you can.”