FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution return home in search of a fourth straight win on Saturday night, when they’ll host expansion side Orlando City SC for the first time at Gillette Stadium.
The Revs (10-9-7, 37 pts.) – tied with Toronto FC for fourth place in the Eastern Conference – will have the chance to further separate themselves from sixth-place Orlando City (7-12-8, 29 pts.), which currently occupies the final playoff spot in the East.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with local coverage 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 former Revolution midfielder Khano Smith.
Fans attending the game are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation as the Revolution’s 2015 Charitable Drive Series wraps up for the season.
Current Form: Revs boast league’s longest unbeaten run; Orlando embroiled in playoff battle
Diego Fagundez became the youngest player in MLS history to score 25 career goals and Bobby Shuttleworth kept his second consecutive clean sheet, as the Revolution stretched their league-best unbeaten run to five games (4-0-1) last weekend with a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union.
Not only was it the Revolution’s first road win since they last visited PPL Park in mid-April, but it was also their second 1-0 win in their current unbeaten run – significant at this time of year, when contests become a bit more cagey with so much at stake each weekend.
“I would definitely say at this time of year, games tend to tighten up a little bit,” said Chris Tierney. “It’s a confidence builder for us that we can go into a tough environment like Philly and get a 1-0 result.
“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest game, but results are what matters at this time of year, so we take a positive out of the fact that we went in there and we came out with three points.”
While the Revs are unbeaten in their last five, Orlando City is winless (0-3-2) in that same stretch, having been outscored 14-2 in the process. Still, they enter the weekend in the Eastern Conference’s sixth and final playoff spot, although they sit just one point ahead of the Montreal Impact, which has four games in hand.
Past Meetings: First-ever matchup in early May was a tale of two halves
Saturday night will mark Orlando City SC’s first-ever visit to Gillette Stadium.
The Revs and OCSC have met once before, in their inaugural meeting back on May 8 at the Citrus Bowl. Charlie Davies and Kelyn Rowe gave New England a 2-0 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of that match, but a pair of late goals from Cyle Larin and Aurelien Collin left the sides deadlocked at the final whistle.
“The last time we played them, it was a little bit two different halves,” said Jay Heaps. “We outplayed them for a half, and then they outplayed us for a half.”
Orlando City visits Foxborough with a 3-7-3 record away from home this season, while the Revs have won three straight at home and boast a 7-1-5 record at Gillette Stadium.
Injury Report: Both sides missing key players to international duty
Jermaine Jones was slowly integrated back into the Revolution’s lineup throughout August, first playing 14 minutes, then 45, then 62 as he returns from bilateral sports hernia surgery. But Jones will be absent this weekend as he’s currently with the U.S. National Team for a pair of friendlies against Peru (Sept. 4 at RFK Stadium) and Brazil (Sept. 8 at Gillette Stadium).
New England will surely miss Jones’ grit in central midfield – the more technical Daigo Kobayashi is a leading candidate to take his place alongside Scott Caldwell – but Heaps believes it’s ultimately best for Jones to be playing on the international stage when he has the chance.
“Losing him now when we’ve just started to get him back in is tough,” Heaps admitted. “But at the same time, I think it’s a good thing for him going forward to get back into the mix and help the national team from a mentality standpoint. Because I think Jermaine is best when he’s playing for club and country.”
Orlando, meanwhile, will be missing four players who’ve played 20-plus games this season. Leading scorers Kaka (nine goals, four assists) and Cyle Larin (11 goals) are on international duty with Brazil and Canada, respectively, while midfielders Darwin Ceren (El Salvador) and Carlos Rivas (suspension) are also unavailable.
Brek Shea could be back in the mix after missing the past 10 games, however, and the Revs are expecting plenty of fight from playoff-chasing Orlando City, regardless of who takes the field for the visitors.
“There’s no question in my mind – they’re well-coached – Adrian (Heath) is going to have those guys ready to go,” said Heaps. “I think it’s two teams that play similarly, and it’s going to be a battle out there.”
Final Thoughts: Saturday night’s game to be played on temporary grass surface
“It’s a small thing that we’ll make adjustments to,” Chris Tierney said of the temporary grass surface which has been installed at Gillette Stadium ahead of the U.S.-Brazil friendly, and which the Revs will play on Saturday night. “We’ve all obviously played on grass before, so it’s not going to be a factor for us.
“We’re confident that in front of our fans – grass, turf, whatever it may be – that we’re going to get a good result.”