FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution – along with 800 of their most fervent supporters – will visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday night for the first time since last year’s Eastern Conference Championship.
The Revs (6-8-6, 24 pts.) enter the weekend perched just one point ahead of the New York Red Bulls (6-6-5, 23 pts.), whom they’ll square off against at 7 p.m. Fans who aren’t traveling to Red Bull Arena can catch the action in English on Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM.
Current Form: Fourth straight loss prompts Revs to “reset and refocus” ahead of NY trip
There was no celebration for the Revs on Independence Day as they suffered a fourth straight loss last weekend in Dallas, where they were shut out for the first time in a month in a 3-0 defeat to FCD.
While the first three losses in the current season-long slump were all 2-1 setbacks – two of which saw the Revs score first – the loss at Toyota Stadium was New England’s worst since the season opener in Seattle, prompting head coach Jay Heaps to call for swift action.
“When you look collectively at the losses – which I did over the last couple days – they’re all different forms of losing, with Dallas being the worst of it because we lost in every component,” Heaps said.
“In those other games, there were positives – there were moments where the game very easily could’ve been points for our team. In Dallas, there weren’t many moments in that game. So I think for me that was the most disheartening one and one that we need to correct and correct quickly.”
New York – just one point back of the Revs and with three games in hand – had won three straight in all competitions before suffering a 2-1 road loss to Columbus Crew SC last weekend. While the Red Bulls attack is still led by leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips (six goals, five assists), it’s been 19-year-old striker Anatole Abang who has prospered in recent weeks, notching three goals and one assist in the last five games.
Past Meetings: Revs return to Red Bull Arena for first time since 2014 EC Championship
The last time the Revolution visited Harrison, New Jersey, they came home with a 2-1 aggregate lead in the Eastern Conference Championship. To date that is New England’s only win at Red Bull Arena, where they carry a regular-season record of 0-5-1 into Saturday night’s encounter.
These two sides did meet earlier this season at Gillette Stadium, where Bunbury and Charlie Davies scored to help the Revolution recreate that familiar scoreline in a 2-1 victory – New England’s first regular-season win over New York in seven tries dating back to 2012.
Injury Report: Farrell returns from suspension as Alston is sidelined by injury
Andrew Farrell missed just his second game this season last weekend in Dallas, as he served a one-game suspension following the second red card of his career the previous weekend against Vancouver.
Farrell’s expected return to the lineup will be a boost for the Revs, who missed the young defender’s tenacity and enthusiasm in a frustrating performance at Toyota Stadium.
“We missed Farrell, there’s no question about it,” said Heaps. “I think we missed Andrew quite a bit, but not because of London (Woodberry) – I thought London did a great job in there. I think London was one of the players I highlighted as doing okay. But we missed Farrell’s competitiveness and his insertion into the group.”
Woodberry, who filled in for Farrell at center back against FC Dallas, will now likely return to right back, particularly with Kevin Alston sidelined by the left hamstring strain which forced him off just past the hour mark of last weekend’s loss.
Final Thoughts: Potential six-point swing makes conference battles extra significant
“Six-point games are huge,” said Bunbury. “When we’re playing Eastern Conference teams, it means the most to us right now because we need all the points we can get. We’ve let some slip away and now it’s enough talking – we just have to go out there and show what we can do.”