FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution close out their busiest stretch of the season – five games in 15 days – on Saturday night when they’ll host Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Gillette Stadium.
The Revs (6-6-6, 24 pts.) will put their league-best 17-game home unbeaten streak on the line against the Whitecaps (9-6-2, 29 pts.), who have won a league-best five road games through the first half of the season.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with coverage in English on both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Fans attending the game are encouraged to bring new or gently-used books for donation to benefit More Than Words. Books will be collected at all Gillette Stadium gates beginning at 6 p.m. until approximately 7:45 p.m., and anyone who donates will receive an autographed Revolution player card.
Current Form: Revs aim to rebound from frustrating road trip; Whitecaps tied atop the West
New England’s disappointing two-game road trip through Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio, churned out two remarkably similar results. In both matches the Revs took an early lead inside 10 minutes only for their opponent’s leading scorer – Chris Rolfe and Kei Kamara, respectively – to net twice en route to a 2-1 loss.
Those results continued a mind-boggling trend in which the Revs have scored the opening goal in 10 of their last 11 matches, only to go 3-3-4 in those games in which they’ve taken a 1-0 lead.
“We’ve just got to score more goals,” said Charlie Davies, who is tied for fifth in MLS with seven goals. “We’ve got to put teams away. We’re getting the chances, especially when we go up a goal early.
“We have to continue to finish teams off. I feel like we get comfortable a little bit, and sure enough, the (other) team rebounds and gets a goal or two. So this time around we’re looking to put teams away with two or three goals when we can in the first half, and trying to put the game to bed.”
Vancouver went through a similarly frustrating skid in April and May, going 2-4-2 through an eight-game stretch after starting the season with four wins from their first five. The Whitecaps have since recovered, though, winning three of their last four games to climb into a tie with Seattle Sounders FC for first place in the West.
“They’re a really good group; well coached. Carl Robinson is doing an excellent job,” said Jay Heaps. “They’re definitely disciplined, and on the road they find their blocks really well. They’re tough to break down.
“Going back two weeks, winning in LA and winning in New York; those are not easy places to win back-to-back. So we’ve got to be mindful of how they block and how they counter with their pace.”
Past Meetings: Revs and Whitecaps set to square off for first time in 15 months
Saturday night’s showdown will be just the sixth all-time meeting between the Revs and Whitecaps and the first since they squared off in the Revolution’s 2014 home opener last March 22.
That game finished 0-0, pushing New England’s home record against Vancouver to 2-0-1, including a memorable 4-1 win back in 2012 in which Lee Nguyen had two goals and one assist against his former club.
It’s been a case of feast or famine in the five previous meetings between these sides; the Revs and Whitecaps combined for 12 goals in a pair of meetings in 2012 and 2013 (that 4-1 Revolution win and a 4-3 Whitecaps win), but they’ve combined for just three total goals in their other three meetings.
Injury Report: Both sides dealing with key suspensions on Saturday night
Central midfielder Andy Dorman has started three of the four games since Jermaine Jones underwent bilateral sports hernia surgery, but Dorman will join Jones on the sideline this weekend as he serves his second suspension of the season for caution accumulation. Dorman leads MLS with eight yellow cards.
With both Dorman and Jones unavailable, it’s likely the Revs will start the duo of Scott Caldwell and Daigo Kobayashi in holding midfield for a second straight game.
Vancouver will also be missing a pair of regular contributors through suspension as both Kendall Waston and Gershon Koffie have accumulated too many cautions. Waston played every minute of every game for the Whitecaps through the first half of the season, while Koffie has spent time as both a starter and a substitute.
Final Thoughts: Nguyen has flashed last year’s MVP-caliber form in recent weeks
“I thought he was really good against D.C. I thought he was really good against Columbus,” Heaps said of Lee Nguyen, who notched his first goal from the run of play this year in the 2-1 loss to Crew SC. “He’s been really good in other games this season, but he got the reward [in Columbus].
“But as a group, we didn’t get the win. So now we’ve got to have that contribution be game-winning.”