FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will close out the month of July this weekend, heading south to visit Orlando City SC at Camping World Stadium on Sunday night.
New England (6-7-8, 26 pts.) and Orlando (4-5-11, 23 pts.) are separated by just three points in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Revs just above the red (playoff) line and the Lions just below. Both sides are still very much in the mix with three months remaining in the regular season.
Kickoff on Sunday night is set for 7:30 p.m., with local coverage in English on both CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM. Stay tuned to The Sports Hub after the final whistle for the 30-minute call-in show, hosted by Rob “Hardy” Poole and with analysis from Shalrie Joseph.
Current Form: Defensive resolve, timely goals have Revs on four-game unbeaten run
For the first time this season the Revs have put together back-to-back shutouts in league play, blanking both Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire the past two weekends. What’s more, the Revs held the Fire without a shot on target to help make Je-Vaughn Watson’s 85th-minute goal stand up as the winner last Saturday night.
The Revs are now unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions, and while it’s something of a cliché to harp on momentum, Teal Bunbury says that stringing together positive results does help a team tick on.
“Getting good results just builds up the morale and gives the team confidence,” said Bunbury, whose lone regular-season goal this year was scored in Orlando. “When you have individual performances that build confidence, as well, then the rest of the group is going to continue to do well, also.
“I’m very happy with how we’re all performing, how we’re getting results. We have to go down to Orlando now and get a good result there.”
Orlando, meanwhile, are winless in their last five league games (0-2-3), although they have shown a fighting spirit in recent weeks. Despite trailing at halftime in both of their last two matches, the Lions have come back to secure a pair of 2-2 draws on the road in Vancouver and Columbus.
Those two draws were under the guidance of interim head coach Bobby Murphy, who has since handed over the reins to longtime MLS head coach Jason Kreis. The former RSL and NYCFC boss took charge this week and while he led Orlando through a friendly with English side Stoke City FC midweek, Sunday night’s game will be Kreis’ first competitive match at the helm.
“I think that they’ll be excited because they are playing under a new coach for the first time, so we have to be mindful of that; there’s emotion in that,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “But at the same time, we can’t lose focus on what makes us strong as a team.”
Past Meetings: Late drama, 2-2 draws the order of the day for Revs and Orlando
The Revs and Orlando City have met just four times since the Lions joined MLS as an expansion team last season, but quite remarkably three of those encounters have finished as 2-2 draws.
Not only that, but all three of those 2-2 draws have featured late drama. Orlando scored 90th-minute equalizers both last year at Camping World Stadium (May 8) and this year at Gillette Stadium (April 30), while both teams scored in stoppage time earlier this year in Orlando (April 17).
Both previous meetings in the Sunshine State have finished 2-2 – the only matchup that didn’t was the Revolution’s 3-0 win over Orlando at Gillette Stadium last September.
Injury Report: Davies’ potential return gives Revs “a couple options” in the attack
Charlie Davies has been sidelined since April 27, when he suffered a groin injury against the Portland Timbers. All together Davies has missed the last 15 games in all competitions, but the energetic forward could be in line for a long-awaited return this weekend in Orlando.
Davies has eased his way back into training in recent weeks and is now unlimited in his participation, making the next step an actual return to the field. When Davies does return he’ll offer a much-needed attacking spark with both Juan Agudelo and Femi Hollinger-Janzen still sidelined.
“He’s obviously coming along and it’s exciting, because he’s been away for a little while,” Heaps said of Davies. “He has an energy and it gives us a couple options, whether we use him in different scenarios in game situations or go really offensive and change some things that we do.”
Heaps also has options in midfield after Gershon Koffie made his much-anticipated return last weekend against Chicago, making a brief cameo appearance for the final two minutes of the 1-0 win.
For Orlando, Kaka is back in the mix, appearing off the bench in the Lions’ last league game after missing the previous three matches with a calf injury. The Brazilian playmaker also captained the MLS All-Star Team on Thursday night, playing the first half of a 2-1 loss to Arsenal.
Final Thoughts: Bunbury says long season tests character, but Revs are coming together
“The results are definitely starting to come our way and I think it goes to show just how much work we’re putting in in training and how much belief we have as a group and with each other,” said Bunbury. “There are a lot of ups and downs in a season. It really tests your character and shows how well you can come together as a group when times are tough.
“We have to keep improving on [recent] results, but also, we have to take a lot from those games and know that there are still things we need to improve on moving forward. There’s still a good portion of the season left and we have to make the most of it if we want to continue this push to stay in the playoffs.”