SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Temperatures are expected to push 90 degrees on Saturday night when the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake meet for a heated midsummer showdown at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kickoff between the Revs (5-7-7, 22 pts.) and RSL (8-6-5, 29 pts.) is set for 10 p.m. ET, 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: High-energy performance helps Revs bounce back with win over Crew SC
New England had just two days to recover from a disappointing home loss to New York City FC last Wednesday night, and they did so in critical fashion with a much-needed 3-1 win over Columbus Crew SC on the weekend.
Lee Nguyen set the tone early with a third-minute goal – his fifth of the season – and Kei Kamara put his stamp on all three goals against his former team as the Revolution put together a 90-minute performance, something they struggled to do consistently through the first half of the 2016 season.
“We’ve played some good soccer this year, but we’ve had some lapses that have cost us games,” said Chris Tierney, who delivered the cross that led to Nguyen’s goal. “To really stay tuned in for 90 minutes was important and I think we did that.
“We conceded a cheap goal, but I think the reaction to the goal was good, and we ended up getting two more on top of it and found a way to win. That’s the attitude and the mindset that we have to have moving forward.”
On Saturday, Real Salt Lake will be looking to rebound from a frustrating midweek loss themselves. They suffered a 2-0 setback at BC Place on Wednesday night, where Jeff Cassar rested several key players in a loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The result leaves RSL winless in their last four league games (0-2-2), although they remain unbeaten at Rio Tinto Stadium (5-0-3) and are currently tied for fourth in the overall MLS standings.
Past Meetings: After blowout victory at home, Revs in search of first-ever win at Rio Tinto
Four different players scored goals as the Revolution rolled over Real Salt Lake at Gillette Stadium last April, snapping a seven-game winless run in the series with a comprehensive 4-0 victory.
Now the Revs will look to carry that success into Rio Tinto Stadium, where they’re winless in five visits (0-4-1) since the venue opened its doors in 2009. In fact, the Revs haven’t won in the Beehive State since 2007, when Pat Noonan and Jeff Larentowicz were the goal scorers in a 2-1 victory.
Injury Report: Shuttleworth available after serving suspension, Koffie on verge of return
Head coach Jay Heaps will again have a decision to make between the pipes this weekend as goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth is available for selection after serving a one-game suspension against Columbus. Brad Knighton has started four of the past five games, going 2-2-0, but Shuttleworth was sharp against New York City FC before being sent off in the dying moments.
Gershon Koffie could also make his long-awaited return this weekend as he’s recently resumed full training after missing the past eight games in all competitions with a right knee sprain.
New England will be missing a quartet of injured players this weekend, however, as Charlie Davies (groin), Donnie Smith (hamstring), Juan Agudelo (knee) and Xavier Kouassi (knee) remain sidelined.
Final Thoughts: Revs prepared to deal with heat, altitude in mid-summer Utah
“There’s no question that there’s heat and there’s altitude that teams coming in have to deal with,” Heaps said of Sandy, Utah, where it’s expected to be around 90 degrees at kickoff on Saturday night. “When dealt with right, you can neutralize it. But if not, you can see the benefits of that (for Real Salt Lake).
“A really good team putting on pressure at the right times, it’s hard to grasp the air out there. We’ve all played out there. We played out there last year in Colorado. It is a hurdle, but one that we’re prepared for and one that we know going in is going to be there.”