FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A rested and refreshed New England Revolution return to the field on Saturday night when the Houston Dynamo visit Gillette Stadium for an inter-conference clash.
The Revs (8-9-7, 31 pts.) enter the weekend tied for fourth place in the crowded Eastern Conference, fresh off their first bye of the 2015 campaign. Houston (8-8-7, 31 pts.) have climbed to within one point of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with still 11 games remaining on their regular-season schedule.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night, with coverage available in English on both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM. Stay tuned to CSNNE after the final whistle for Revolution Postgame Live, hosted by Dalen Cuff and with analysis from Khano Smith.
Fans attending Saturday night’s game are encouraged to arrive early to receive a limited edition Jay Heaps bobblehead, which can be viewed HERE.
Current Form: Recent turnarounds have both Revs and Dynamo trending upward
After difficult early-summer stretches, both the Revs and Dynamo have gone 2-0-1 in the last three games.
New England turned three set pieces into a trio of goals in their last match en route to a comfortable 3-1 win over Toronto FC, giving the Revolution seven points from a possible nine to follow up a five-game losing streak.
The momentum gained in those last three games was slowed somewhat by last weekend’s bye – New England’s first of the 2015 season – but the time off also allowed the players to recharge ahead of the stretch run.
“We went a long time without a break [during] the toughest part of the season through that summer stretch,” said Kelyn Rowe, who has one goal and one assist in the last two games. “I think getting that weekend off, not just our bodies are better, but our minds, as well. We got a break from soccer to come back fresh this weekend.”
Houston has matched New England’s three-game run, sandwiching home wins over the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes around a road draw with Sporting Kansas City. The modest unbeaten streak has coincided with the arrival of Mexico international Erick “El Cubo” Torres, who has appeared off the bench in the last three games.
Past Meetings: Revs took two-of-three last year for first season-series win since 2010
For the first time ever the Revs and Dynamo will meet just once this regular season, a result of Houston’s move to the Western Conference following the additions of New York City FC and Orlando City SC.
These sides met three times last year with New England winning twice. After suffering a demoralizing 4-0 loss in the 2014 season opener at BBVA Compass Stadium the Revs bounced back in fine fashion, beating the Dynamo in the next two meetings – once at home and once in Houston.
New England’s 2-0 win in the most recent matchup Gillette Stadium – highlighted by Kevin Alston’s only MLS goal to date – snapped the Revolution’s four-game winless run (0-1-3) against the Dynamo in Foxborough.
Injury Report: Jones hoping for increased role after abbreviated return vs. TFC
It was only a 14-minute stint at the end of a comfortable victory, but Jermaine Jones was thrilled to be back on the field for the first time in two months when New England hosted TFC two weeks ago.
Now, he’s hoping for more.
The influential midfielder is targeting “60 minutes or something like that” against the Dynamo, but head coach Jay Heaps said Jones’ level of participation would be determined after assessing him this week. Either way, Jones provides the Revs with a boost both on the field and in the locker room.
“It’s huge for us having Jermaine come back,” said Charlie Davies, who snapped a six-game scoreless drought with two goals against Toronto FC. “I think this will be his first game where he’s feeling pretty fit.
“Whenever he’s on the field, you always have his experience, his presence, as well as what a good player he is for us. So that’ll be a huge boost and it’s coming at the right time.”
Final Thoughts: Competition ratcheting up amongst Revs’ attackers
“It’s a very competitive team right now,” said Rowe, whose start against TFC was his first since late June. “I think each day, each training and throughout each week, we make Jay’s job very tough. That’s what you want as a coach and that’s what we want as players.
“I think whoever’s in those (attacking) spots can make a huge difference. That’s what’s so good about this team; we have guys like Teal (Bunbury), Juan (Agudelo), Diego (Fagundez), myself, Charlie, Sean Okoli, Lee Nguyen, who can make things happen. If you stick one of us in there, no matter who it is, something’s going to happen.”