FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With just 10 games remaining on their regular season schedule the New England Revolution will kick off the unofficial stretch run on Saturday night, when they’ll host Columbus Crew SC.
Both the Revs (6-10-8, 26 pts.) and Crew SC (3-8-11, 20 pts.) enter the weekend on the outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but only the Revs can climb above the red line on Saturday.
Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m., with coverage in English on both CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM. Both CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub will also feature 30-minute postgame shows after the final whistle.
Fans who arrive early on Saturday night will receive a limited edition Diego Fagundez bobblehead, presented by Mountain Dew, commemorating Fagundez’s memorable goal against the Chicago Fire on June 13, 2015. Supplies will be limited.
Current Form: Revs look to respond after “unacceptable” performance vs. Philadelphia
New England’s recent defensive struggles continued last weekend at Gillette Stadium, where the Revs conceded after just 77 seconds en route to a 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union. It was the Revolution’s third straight loss in league play, and they’ve conceded 11 goals during that stretch while scoring just twice.
While the Revs won’t dwell on the results, they’ve taken a hard look at their recent performances and know that significant changes need to be made heading into the season’s final 10 games.
“It was unacceptable, quite frankly, across the board,” head coach Jay Heaps said of last weekend’s loss. “We all have to take ownership of it, starting with what we need to do going into the game, selection, and overall preparing for the game.
“It wasn’t good enough, so it’s not one that you can brush under the rug. We’re going to spend a lot of time doing the analysis and making sure that we’re better and continue to get better, because with 10 games left, there’s no more room for error.”
Columbus, the defending Eastern Conference champions, have struggled to gain their footing this season. They’ll carry a 10-game winless run (0-4-6) into Gillette Stadium this weekend, having last won in late May.
Gregg Berhalter’s side has proven difficult to beat, however, as Columbus is second in MLS with 11 draws, including nine in their last 14 games. They’re coming off a wild 3-3 draw with New York City FC last weekend, and have found the back of the net at least once in seven of their last eight games.
“They’re a great team,” said Heaps. “They’re like us in that the standings – they matter the most – but they don’t always tell the whole picture. They don’t always tell the whole story.”
Past Meetings: Kamara’s big night lifted Revs to victory over Crew SC in July
Facing his former team for the first time since the May 12 trade that brought him to New England, Kei Kamara played a part in all three goals as the Revs claimed a 3-1 win over Crew SC back on July 9.
While this weekend’s meeting likely won’t match the emotion of that first encounter with his ex-teammates, Kamara said any match against a former team carries a little something extra.
“I think it’s always going to be there when I play against Columbus. It’s just the same as when I play against Kansas City, Houston or San Jose – I can name all of them,” said Kamara, who’s featured for five different teams in a 10-year MLS career.
“We played a really good game against them here the last time, but that was a game in the past. We really, really have to be ready for this one because they need points and we need points.”
Overall the Revs are 3-0-1 in their last four meetings with Crew SC at Gillette Stadium, including a victory in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2014.
Injury Report: Agudelo, Femi give Revs attacking options; Watson questionable
Perhaps the only silver lining from last weekend’s loss to Philadelphia was the return of Juan Agudelo, who made a 14-minute appearance off the bench after missing nine games through injury. The young forward says he was able to maintain his fitness while sidelined and is eager to help pull the Revs out of their current slump.
The Revs could have another attacking option returning, as well, with rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen close to a full recovery after missing six games with a groin injury.
One player the Revs will definitely have back on Saturday night is Gershon Koffie, available after serving a one-game suspension last weekend. Je-Vaughn Watson, however, is questionable with a groin injury.
Columbus will be without influential midfielder Tony Tchani – suspended for yellow card accumulation – and defender Gaston Sauro (knee), while defender Waylon Francis (shoulder) is questionable.
Final Thoughts: Revs ready to “roll up [their] sleeves” after disappointing performances
“We had a long talk this morning,” Agudelo said on Tuesday. “We just have to roll up our sleeves and say to ourselves, ‘Do we want to make the playoffs?’ Obviously, that answer is yes. What is it going to take to make the playoffs? We know what we have to do.”