FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution is set to face its final Western Conference opponent of the 2014 regular season on Saturday night when Chivas USA visits Gillette Stadium.
New England (8-12-3, 27 pts.) enters the weekend one point back of the New York Red Bulls, who currently occupy the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Chivas USA (6-11-6, 24 pts.) sits at the bottom of the Western Conference, with a nine-point gap separating the Goats from postseason position.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub covering the action.
Current Form: Revs set out to correct recent second-half lapses; Chivas USA winless in five
Bolstered by the return to form of forward Charlie Davies – who’s notched two goals and one assist since locking down a starting role – the Revs have established halftime leads in each of their last three games. But since rolling to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in late July, they’ve since squandered halftime advantages in a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls and last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers.
Head coach Jay Heaps has pointed to the critical period between minutes 45 and 65 – just after halftime – as a stretch in which the Revs need to be better, while midfielder Scott Caldwell says an early goal should be a cue to keep pushing for a second, not take the foot off the gas.
“We’ve just got to really make sure we don’t get complacent with the lead,” Caldwell said. “We have to play the same way whether we’re winning, losing or tied, because when we do play with that urgency, we’ve proven we can take the lead and really put teams on their back foot.”
Chivas USA has been somewhat of an enigma in recent weeks, following up a four-game winning streak with a four-game losing streak before last weekend’s 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps. What’s clear, however, is the threat of star forward Erick “Cubo” Torres, who’s notched 14 of Chivas USA’s 21 goals this season.
The team around Torres is evolving, as Chivas USA confirmed on Thursday a move which sent assist-leader Mauro Rosales to Vancouver in exchange for midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. That follows last week’s signing of Ecuadorian forward Felix Borja, an addition which changes the dynamic of Chivas USA’s approach.
“They’re a different team,” said Heaps. “They haven’t typically played with two target men and I think Borja and Torres are typically two target guys. So they’ve definitely changed their formation; rather than having more of a 4-2-3-1 formation, I think it’s more of a 4-4-2 straight up. It adds a little different component and we have to be prepared for it.”
Past Meetings: Revs hoping to snap five-year winless drought against the Goats
The goal scorers in New England’s last win over Chivas USA – a 2-0 triumph back in July 2009 – were Kheli Dube and Steve Ralston. Since then the Revs have encountered plenty of difficultly with the Goats, losing five straight meetings between 2009 and 2011 before drawing both matchups in 2012 and 2013.
Former Revolution forward Chad Barrett scored late to help the Revs claim a point in a 1-1 draw last year at StubHub Center, but it was the 3-3 draw in the most recent meeting at Gillette Stadium which currently stands as the craziest game in the series.
After New England built an early three-goal lead, Chivas USA stormed back with a pair of goals from Shalrie Joseph – who’d been traded from the Revs just four weeks prior – and Miller Bolanos capped things off with the equalizer as the teams settled for a share of the spoils.
Injury Report: Dorman and Tierney still sidelined; Alston questionable with hamstring tightness
Knee injuries continue to keep midfielder Andy Dorman and defender Chris Tierney unavailable for game action, though Tierney has upped his training regimen in recent days to include sprints and sharp cuts.
Meanwhile, Tierney’s replacement at left back, Kevin Alston, is questionable for Saturday night after he was forced off in the first half of last weekend’s draw with the Portland Timbers.
“It’s not as severe as I think everyone thought it was,” Heaps said earlier in the week. “It’s a tough one for Kevin, but I think he’s going to be okay over the next couple days.”
Chivas USA will be without four potential starters this weekend, including captain Carlos Bocanegra, who’ll miss a fifth straight game because of a concussion. The former U.S. National Team skipper will be joined on the sidelines by Marvin Chavez (R hip flexor strain), Thomas McNamara (R ACL reconstruction) and Martin Rivero (R ACL reconstruction).
Final Thoughts: Davies says Revs “just have to go out and play the way we know how to play”
“Personally, I love pressure, so I like to think that I can thrive in pressure situations,” said Davies. “But I don’t think we need to really put all the pressure on ourselves. I think we just have to go out and play the way we know how to play and finish off games.”