FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution continue their travels this weekend as they’ll visit longtime rival D.C. United on Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Revs (4-4-7, 19 pts.) and United (4-6-5, 17 pts.) this regular season, and kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner will have the call in English on CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese radio listeners can listen to the game on WMVX 1570 AM.
Host Matt McCarthy and analyst Shalrie Joseph will also take your calls for 30 minutes after the final whistle on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Resurgent Revs (four wins in five) climbing the table in the East
The Revs returned from the Copa America break in style last week, winning both games on a two-game road trip through North Carolina and Vancouver.
New England’s journey started with a 1-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, and finished with a gutsy 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC just three days later at BC Place.
The pair of victories give the Revolution four wins from their last five games in all competitions, and both players and coaches have pointed to a confidence within the squad that was perhaps missing earlier in the season.
“We’ve got the belief in the locker room,” said Lee Nguyen, who has three goals and four assists in the Revs’ last four league games. “We’re going out there and willing, just willing those wins. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest, but we fought hard on the road and grinded out two victories. That’s what we’re going to have to do.”
D.C. United enter the weekend just two points back of the Revs in the Eastern Conference standings, but Ben Olsen’s side has struggled to score goals in recent weeks. Including a U.S. Open Cup meeting with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, D.C. has scored just one goal in their last five games in all competitions.
It’s been steady defense that has kept D.C. in the mix; although they’ve scored the fewest goals in the East (14), they’ve also conceded the second-fewest (16) and have kept six clean sheets in 15 games.
Past Meetings: Revs in search of first win – and goal – in third meeting with D.C. this year
Two of D.C.’s six shutouts this season have come at the expense of the Revs, who played to a 0-0 draw with United at Gillette Stadium on March 12 before suffering a 3-0 loss at RFK Stadium on April 23.
Including last year’s playoff loss the Revs are winless in their last five meetings with United (0-3-2) and have lost on four straight trips to Our Nation’s Capital, a fact the Revs are well aware of heading into the weekend.
“They do a nice job of frustrating us,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “Even moments where we’ve played really well against them, glimpses in the game, we haven’t been able to break them down. We haven’t been able to punish them for the chances we create.
“The key is for us not to get frustrated. Our mentality going into it is going to be key, understanding that the harder we push, the harder we try to beat them in certain areas, that’s almost what they want you to do. They invite you in to frustrate you, then punish you when you make a mistake.”
Injury Report: Koffie continues to progress; Femi questionable after missing Vancouver trip
Gershon Koffie looks set to miss his third straight game this weekend as he continues to recover from a right knee sprain, but the central midfielder has been making steady progress in recent weeks.
“Every day we’re closer with Gersh,” said Heaps. “We’re hoping that we get closer with him, because he’s a big part of what we’re doing and a huge piece for us.
“We’d like to get him back and ease him into it. Obviously he won’t be at his full fitness, but we’d like to get him back and training with us as soon as possible.”
Upstart rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen also missed the trip to Vancouver after suffering a hamstring injury in last week’s U.S. Open Cup meeting with Carolina, and he’s questionable ahead of the trip to D.C.
The versatile Je-Vaughn Watson is back in the mix for New England after returning from Copa America duty with Jamaica, playing the final 16 minutes of the win over Vancouver in a defensive midfield position.
Final Thoughts: Wary of dangerous D.C. side, Revs aim to “stick together as a unit”
“We know what D.C. can bring and we know they’re a tough team to play against, especially at home,” said Teal Bunbury, who made his first start since mid-April last week in Vancouver. “For us, it’s playing our game, sticking together as a unit, and trying to make the most of it. This week, I think we’re really just going to focus on ourselves and getting sharp and just being prepared.”