FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Major League Soccer returns to Foxborough on Saturday afternoon for the first time since the New England Revolution hoisted the Eastern Conference Championship trophy last November.
The road-weary Revs (0-2-0, 0 pts.) will finally kick off their 2015 home schedule against the Montreal Impact (0-1-0, 0 pts.) on Saturday, with the two sides set to kick off at 3 p.m. Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Jessie Coffield will have the call on both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese listeners can catch the action on WMVX 1570 AM “Nossa Radio USA.”
Stay tuned to CSNNE after the game for Revolution Postgame Live with Dalen Cuff and Khano Smith.
Current Form: In the early going, both sides still searching for first goal and win of 2015
For the fourth straight year the Revolution opened the season with a pair of road games, and for the third time in that span they came away with a pair of shutout losses.
There was reason to be encouraged by last weekend’s 2-0 loss to New York City FC, however, as the Revs generated a host of quality scoring chances during the latter stages of the first half. Now they’ll be looking to turn those chances into goals – and points – on their long-awaited return to Foxborough.
“We’ve got to be better at all facets,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “I think we were good on set pieces, we were good on a lot of the play, but again came away empty-handed. It’s about staying motivated and staying positive.”
There will be plenty of positive energy at Gillette Stadium, where the Revs went 8-0-2 in their final 10 home games last year, and have gone 6-0-2 in their last eight home openers dating back to 2006.
Like their hosts, Montreal enter the weekend still in search of their first goal and point of the 2015 regular season, having dropped their only game, 1-0, at D.C. United two weeks ago.
The Impact has, however, had loads of success in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Canadian side is coming off a 2-0 midweek win over Costa Rican club Alajuelense – that after dramatically eliminating Mexico’s Pachuca in the previous round – and is now on the brink of advancing to the final entering the second leg.
“They’re already further along in the season than most MLS teams are, so they’re going to be a dangerous team,” Heaps said in reference to Montreal’s CCL participation. “They had a tough result in D.C., but we’re looking at a team that I think is really more dynamic this season.”
Past Meetings: Revs and Impact split three-game season series in 2014
One win. One loss. One draw. There was nothing to separate the Revs and Impact last season.
New England did claim their first-ever home win over Montreal, however, as goals from Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen lifted the Revs to a comeback victory last September. Previously the Revolution had lost their only two meetings with the Impact at Gillette Stadium.
These two sides most recently met last October at Stade Saputo, where again it was Rowe and Nguyen getting on the board for the Revs in a 2-2 draw which officially clinched a playoff spot for New England.
Injury Report: Revolution’s depth to be tested as they deal with injuries, suspension
The same four-man backline has started each of the Revolution’s first two matches this season, but a pair of changes will be necessary on Saturday.
Captain and center back Jose Goncalves is suspended after he was shown the first red card of his MLS career last weekend at Yankee Stadium, while right back Kevin Alston will also be sidelined after limping off with a hamstring strain shortly before the hour mark.
A right shoulder injury will also keep Teal Bunbury out of commission for a second straight game, while Jermaine Jones (sports hernia surgery) is slated for a return to Foxborough next week.
Montreal is dealing with a string of injuries, as well, with influential midfielder Justin Mapp the most notable absence after dislocating his elbow in the season opener at RFK Stadium. Winger Andres Romero (quad), midfielder Dilly Duka (leg) and defender Adrian Lopez (knee) join Mapp on the injured list.
Final Thoughts: Revs eager to turn things around in front of the Foxborough faithful
“I think it’s exactly what we need,” Darrius Barnes said of opening the home slate at Gillette Stadium. “We’ve had two rough goes on the road and to get back here in front of our home fans and get the ball rolling here at home would be huge to get three points and get that momentum and confidence.
“We’ve dropped six points on the road and it’s time to grab three. We’ve got to go take them.”