FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jay Heaps isn’t expecting many similarities between the D.C. United side the New England Revolution faced on March 12 and the one they’ll see on Saturday evening.
United was beset by injuries when they visited Gillette Stadium for the Revolution’s home opener six weeks ago, but still managed to grind out a 0-0 draw. Now D.C.’s approaching full strength, and Heaps knows that Ben Olsen’s group will present plenty of challenges in the rematch at RFK Stadium.
“They’ll be a little bit of a different group,” said Heaps. “They’ve had changes to their roster. They’re much better in terms of their injury issues. When they played us (on March 12), they were reeling a little bit from some injuries, but now they’re back to full strength and they’re dangerous.”
Key amongst those who’ve returned for United is Fabian Espindola, who has three goals on the season and has started each of D.C.’s last four games after overcoming a hamstring injury.
Espindola has historically been a thorn in the side of the Revolution, as has Chris Rolfe, who’s teamed up with Espindola in the attack in recent weeks.
“The last time we played, they didn’t have Espindola playing, but he’ll most likely be playing on Saturday,” said center back Andrew Farrell. “He’s had a couple of good games these past two games. He’s going to be a threat. He’s always been a tough guy to play against.”
“They’ve got players that can play in terms of Espindola and Rolfe linking up top, and (Alvaro) Saborio being dangerous off the bench,” said Heaps. “We have to be very mindful of what they’re going to do in the attack, but at the same time, look to play our game when we can in their half.”
Saturday’s trip to RFK Stadium will be the Revolution’s first visit to Our Nation’s Capital since last year’s playoff exit at the venue, but it’s the more recent meeting with D.C. that Revolution players have on their minds after they felt that they should’ve taken three points on March 12.
“We dropped points at home against them and I think everybody thought we should’ve gotten three,” said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. “They’re a very organized group. Espindola is very dangerous, so we have to be wary of him at all times.
“We have to put in another good shift, stay organized, and try to get three (points).”