COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s not officially one of Major League Soccer’s five “Rivalry Week” matches, but Wednesday night’s showdown between the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew SC will most certainly be heated.
New England (6-5-6, 24 pts.) and Columbus (4-6-5, 17 pts.) – whose last meeting at MAPFRE Stadium was in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals – will kick off their midweek match at 7:30 p.m.
WATCH PARTY: Revolution fans can catch the action alongside their fellow supporters at the club’s official watch party at CBS Scene in Patriot Place, while the broadcast will be available on Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs hit midway point looking to right the ship; Crew SC winless in six
New England officially reached the midway point of their 2015 regular-season schedule on Sunday evening, suffering a 2-1 loss to Supporters’ Shield leaders D.C. United in the front end of a two-game road trip.
Charlie Davies scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season – tying him with the likes of Clint Dempsey, Sebastian Giovinco, Obafemi Martins and Kaka for third in the league – to give the Revs an early 1-0 lead, but a pair of late goals from Chris Rolfe turned the tables and sent the Revs to a third straight road loss.
It was the sixth time in the past eight games the Revs failed to win despite scoring first, and that’s a trend they’ll be looking to reverse as they begin the second half of the campaign on Wednesday night.
“It’s a long season,” said Davies. “It’s the midway point now, so we’ve got another second half to keep going and keep moving forward as a team.
“I think it’s been difficult for us. We’ve gone up a bunch of these games and we’re giving up second-half goals, so we’re dropping a lot of points. But it’s something we can fix, so it’s nothing to start panicking over.”
Crew SC, meanwhile, still needs to play two more games before reaching the midway point, in part because Gregg Berhalter’s side was given a chance to rest with a bye on the schedule this past weekend.
Columbus enters this midweek contest tied with three other teams for the final playoff spot in the East, and they’ll also be looking to turn the tide after going winless in their last six league matches (0-3-3).
Past Meetings: Budding rivals battled to a wind-swept scoreless draw in April
Swirling winds garnered most of the headlines after the Revs and Crew SC played out a 0-0 draw on April 11 at Gillette Stadium, where New England held Columbus without a shot on target through the 90 minutes.
It was a much different story the last time these two sides met at MAPFRE Stadium, however, as Davies (2), Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney scored to help the Revs claim a 4-2 win in the first leg of an Eastern Conference semifinal series, which New England eventually won on aggregate, 7-3.
Including a pair of regular-season wins in 2013 – both by shutout – the Revs have claimed the full three points on three of their last four visits to Columbus.
Injury Report: More roster rotation likely as Revs grind through season’s busiest stretch
Head coach Jay Heaps said before embarking upon this four-games-in-11-days stretch that the technical staff had a general plan for how they wanted to approach this week from a personnel standpoint, and after coming through Sunday’s game in D.C. relatively unscathed physically, that plan still largely holds true.
“I think there are one or two changes after Sunday, seeing some guys that may or may not be totally where we want them to be,” Heaps said. “But at the same time, we feel we have good depth and we have to attack this game and try to play our best.”
While Jermaine Jones remains sidelined as he recovers from bilateral sports hernia surgery, his U.S. National Team teammates Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen look set to remain with the Revs through the summer months after neither was named to the final 23-man roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Final Thoughts: Possession a key area of focus ahead of Wednesday’s showdown
“First and foremost, they’re a really good possession team,” Heaps said of Columbus. “They like to keep it and they like to keep it in dangerous areas. So we’re preparing for how we deal with that, how we defend in blocks in the right areas.
“But then also how we keep it and keep the ball from them, because that’s a frustrating tactic for them – when you have the ball and they can’t get it back.”