FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution are finally coming home.
After playing five straight road games the Revs (4-6-7, 19 pts.) will return to Gillette Stadium for the first time since late May on Wednesday night, when they’ll host Eastern Conference leader New York City FC (7-5-6, 27 pts.). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with coverage on CSN, 98.5 The Sports Hub and WMVX 1570 AM.
While the first team game is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m., fans are encouraged to arrive early to cheer on athletes from both Special Olympics Massachusetts (representing the Revs) and Special Olympics New York (representing NYCFC). Those two teams will take the field for a Special Olympics Unified match at 4:30 p.m., and select parking lots will be open early to allow fans to attend the contest.
Fans are also encouraged to stick around after the final whistle for the Revolution’s Independence Day fireworks show, presented by Dunkin’ Donuts. Fireworks will start approximately 10 minutes after the game’s conclusion.
As part of the Independence Day festivities, the Revolution will wear their Flag of New England (red) kit on Wednesday night to honor the region’s history and crucial role in the Revolutionary War.
Current Form: Revs happy to be home after going 3-2-0 on five-game road swing
It’s been more than a month since the Revolution last played at Gillette Stadium, when Femi Hollinger-Janzen’s late strike earned the hosts a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC. Since then the Revs have embarked upon a five-game road swing, going 3-2-0, including a pair of wins in the U.S. Open Cup.
New England’s travels came to a frustrating end this past weekend in Montreal, where Kei Kamara’s first two league goals with the Revolution staked the visitors to a 2-0 lead, only for that advantage to evaporate in a 15-minute span en route to a 3-2 loss.
The loss in Montreal was the Revolution’s 17th game of the season, officially bringing them to the midway point of the regular-season schedule. While they currently sit just one point out of a playoff spot in a crowded Eastern Conference, the Revs know that there is loads of work to be done in the second half of the campaign.
“I think every year it happens; there are things to work on in the second half of the season,” said Kelyn Rowe. “As long as you can have a good second half of the season, you have that good run towards the end and on your way into the playoffs, your team’s going to be okay.
“I think we’re getting better and better. The results haven’t shown too much positively on our side, but I think they’re changing a little bit … For us, it’s just keep playing and we’re going to get better.”
NYCFC, meanwhile, have won three straight games – including their first-ever New York derby this past Sunday – to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. They’ve done so in large part thanks to their road form, as their 4-2-1 record away from Yankee Stadium is the best road record in Major League Soccer.
“They play a good style of soccer, they like to play out of the back,” Andrew Farrell said of NYCFC, singling out David Villa and Jack Harrison for praise. “They’ve got a lot of good players. It’s a team that obviously we want to show that we can play against, and get three points at home against.”
Past Meetings: New foes prepare for fifth all-time meeting, second at Gillette Stadium
New York City FC bagged a 2-0 win over the Revs in their first-ever home game last March at Yankee Stadium, but since then, it’s been all New England in the brief series.
The Revs are 2-0-1 in their last three meetings with NYCFC, including a 1-1 draw in the Bronx earlier this season. Chris Tierney scored for the Revolution in that match, answering Tommy McNamara’s early strike.
This will be just the second time NYCFC have ever visited Gillette Stadium, where Lee Nguyen’s first-half goal helped the Revs to a 1-0 win last July, kick-starting the Revolution’s remarkable 7-0-1 run.
Injury Report: Femi returns from hamstring strain; Agudelo, Koffie remain sidelined
The Revs got their energetic super-sub back this past weekend as Femi made a five-minute appearance off the bench after missing three games with a hamstring strain.
It was a welcome addition to the Revolution’s attack, which remains without forwards Juan Agudelo (knee) and Charlie Davies (groin). Defender Donnie Smith (hamstring) remains out, as well, and midfielder Gershon Koffie (knee) will miss a seventh straight game in all competitions as he gradually nears a return.
Final Thoughts: Heaps says Revs need to avoid “critical mistakes” against NYCFC
“Right now, we’re gifting games away. We’re just making critical mistakes,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “We’re playing well at times, but not good enough for 90 minutes. I think the games that we’ve won, we’ve put together a complete 90 minutes.
“Going up 2-0 (in Montreal), there’s no way we shouldn’t get out of there with three points … To give up three unanswered was really disheartening in that it never felt like we were under a ton of pressure. We just kind of gave them three goals and that’s where we have to get better, because that’s where we’ve lost points this season.”