ORLANDO, Florida – The bright lights of MLS Soccer Sunday will feature the New England Revolution this weekend as the Revs visit Orlando City SC at the Citrus Bowl.
ESPN’s coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday as the Revs (1-1-4, 7 pts.) and Orlando City (2-1-2, 8 pts.) clash for the first time in 2016. Radio listeners can catch the local call with Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner on 98.5 The Sports Hub, while the action will also be available in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM.
Tune into 98.5 The Sports Hub after the final whistle for the postgame show, hosted by Rich Keefe and with analysis from Revolution legend Shalrie Joseph.
Current Form: Revs have mixed emotions after taking four points from two home games
New England emerged from a brief two-game home-stand with four points – including their first win of the campaign over the New York Red Bulls – but they were left feeling aggrieved by some questionable refereeing decisions as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC last weekend.
Despite the frustration, head coach Jay Heaps was satisfied with the performances his side put forth, as they continue to create plenty of attacking opportunities; they just need to turn those opportunities into goals.
“We were really happy with a lot of what we did,” Heaps said of the two home games. “We played well, we created enough and I think obviously the final piece is what’s inches away.
“I’ve said it before; I’d be a little bit more concerned if we weren’t creating chances. But I feel like we’re creating them. We’re getting guys in position. Now we’ve got to finish them.”
Orlando City returns to the Citrus Bowl after suffering their first loss of the season on the road last weekend, 2-1 at the hands of the Philadelphia Union. They’ll look to rebound at home where they’re 1-0-2 on the campaign, including an impressive 4-1 win over the defending champion Portland Timbers just two weeks ago.
Kaka, making his 2016 debut, had one goal and two assists in that game, and while he operates differently than Sebastian Giovinco, the Revs see similarities in how Kaka must be handled defensively.
“You can’t just stick one guy on him because he moves so fluidly throughout the field,” Heaps said of the Brazilian maestro. “There has to be a combination of lines of midfielders and defenders communicating where he is at all times.”
Past Meetings: Brief history between the sides has favored New England
Sunday’s visit to the Citrus Bowl will be just the second trip to Orlando for the Revolution, who took a point from their last visit to the Sunshine State but were disappointed not to take more. Charlie Davies and Kelyn Rowe had the Revs comfortably in front into the late stages last May, but a pair of Orlando goals in the final 15 minutes – including an Aurelien Collin equalizer in the 90th minute – left the sides level at 2-2.
New England made sure they didn’t fall victim to a similar fate at Gillette Stadium, however, as they put together one of their best performances of the year in a 3-0 dismantling of the Lions last September.
Injury Report: Agudelo fighting for fitness after missing last weekend’s draw
A right hamstring injury sidelined Juan Agudelo for last weekend’s draw with TFC, but the dynamic forward is hoping to be an option on Sunday as he’s listed as questionable on the official injury report.
Steve Neumann, however, has already been ruled out by a sprained right knee.
Orlando was also missing a dynamic attacking piece in their last match as Cyle Larin – who bagged 17 goals as a rookie last year and already has three this season – was similarly sidelined by a hamstring injury. The powerful forward is expected to return on Sunday, however, to celebrate his 21st birthday on the field.
“If he gets an inch, he’s going to score,” Heaps said of the former UConn striker, noting that the duo of Kaka and Larin must be kept under a watchful eye for 90 minutes.
Final Thoughts: Watson impressed by Revs’ ability to create; now comes the finish
“This is the first team I’ve played for that creates so many chances,” said Je-Vaughn Watson. “Every game, we’re creating four or five chances, but we’re not scoring them. It’s early on in the season and guys are just trying to get their foot forward, because we’re getting chances and that’s the best part.
“If we weren’t getting chances, that would be a factor. We just need to finish our chances, work a little harder on the field and try to be concentrated for 90 minutes.”