MONTREAL – In the immortal words of Bon Jovi, we’re halfway there.
The New England Revolution (4-5-7, 19 pts.) will officially hit the midway point of their 2016 regular-season schedule on Saturday evening, when they’ll visit the Montreal Impact (5-4-6, 21 pts.) at Stade Saputo.
Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m., with coverage in English on both CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Current Form: Fresh off another Open Cup triumph, Revs close out five-game road swing
This weekend’s trip north of the border will be the Revolution’s fifth straight road game, including three league matches and a pair of U.S. Open Cup contests. It’s already been a successful swing as the Revs are 3-1-0 on their travels, including a dramatic 3-2 win over the New York Cosmos on Wednesday night.
New England’s last league match was a disappointing 2-0 loss to D.C. United last weekend at RFK Stadium, but the midweek triumph over the Cosmos was a much-improved performance – particularly in the second half – and it was a result that has the Revs back on track ahead of a critical trip to Montreal.
“We knew we started the season poorly on the road,” said Scott Caldwell. “We were able to kind of regroup and get a better mentality going away; a lot of credit to the coaches for that. We’ve grouped together as a team and kind of gotten closer, and really worked together well. We’ve got to close this road trip on a good one.”
Montreal has struggled since starting the season 4-2-0, winning just one of their last 11 games in all competitions since mid-April. They’ve been difficult to beat at home – going 3-1-3 at Stade Saputo – but they did let a halftime lead slip away in their last home match, a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
Didier Drogba (five goals, five assists) and Ignacio Piatti (nine goals, three assists) lead the line for Montreal, who despite recent struggles are still third in the East in points per game (1.40).
“They can beat you in a lot of different ways,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “They have guys that are free flowing and really good in Piatti and obviously Drogba, but (Lucas) Ontivero’s been very good, as has (Dominic) Oduro. They’re a complete team.
“We have to go in there with a good mindset, a good game plan and a good mentality.”
Past Meetings: Revs blanked in a trio of meetings with Montreal last season
New England dropped the three-game series with Montreal last season, and they did so without scoring a goal against their Eastern Conference foe. The sides played to a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium to open the season, before the Impact claimed a 3-0 win at Stade Saputo and a 1-0 win in Foxborough.
Overall the Revs are winless in their last four meetings with the Impact (0-2-2), although they have won on two of their previous six trips to Montreal, claiming the full three points in both 2012 and 2013.
Injury Report: Agudelo sidelined by knee sprain suffered in midweek Open Cup win
The Revolution’s midweek Open Cup triumph over the Cosmos came at a bit of a price, as forward Juan Agudelo limped off in the first half with a knee sprain that will sideline him for this weekend’s trip to Montreal. Agudelo has seen just 648 minutes of action this season, but has racked up three goals and two assists in limited time.
Central midfielder Gershon Koffie continues to make progress as he recovers from the knee sprain that has forced him to miss the past five games in all competitions, but he’ll miss a sixth game on Saturday. Both Charlie Davies (groin) and Donnie Smith (hamstring) remain out, as well.
There is good news, however, for rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen (hamstring), who has returned to full training this week and could be in line for a return at Stade Saputo; New England’s super-sub is listed as questionable.
Montreal continues to be without the services of 2015 MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman, as he recently completed duties with the Belgium National Team at the European Championships. The Impact are also without the injured trio of Marco Donadel (ankle), Andres Romero (knee) and Donny Toia (hamstring).
Final Thoughts: In wake of Kamara’s first Revs goal, Heaps calls for a balanced attack
“We don’t want to put too much (emphasis) on just the [scoring],” Heaps said after Kei Kamara notched his first goal and assist in a Revolution jersey on Wednesday night. “It’s always important to open his account … but for me the reality is that he’s been playing really well for us.
“We just need to keep getting performances from him because when he takes the space, other guys can step up. I feel like we have a good balance in our attack so we don’t need one guy scoring goals, we need all of our guys scoring goals.”