FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution face another critical late-season test on Saturday night when the Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC visit Gillette Stadium.
The Revs (7-12-9, 30 pts.) enter the weekend four points back of the final playoff spot in the East, while NYCFC (12-8-8, 44 pts.) sit one point ahead of the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC atop the conference with six games remaining. New England would climb to within one point of the playoff places with a win on Saturday night.
The action will kick off at 8 p.m., with local coverage in English on CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM “Nossa Radio USA.” Both CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub will also carry 30-minute postgame shows.
Current Form: Opportunistic attack, resolute defense guide Revs to slump-busting win
Last weekend’s 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids not only snapped the Revolution’s six-game winless run, it also ended their scoreless drought, with Juan Agudelo and Chris Tierney scoring either side of halftime. Brad Knighton also made two stellar saves to back-stop the Revolution’s recently resolute defense.
But the Revs didn’t spend any time relishing those three points, as their attention immediately turned to Saturday night’s meeting with NYCFC and a chance to build momentum during the stretch run.
“We knew that as soon as we got the first goal, the most important thing was getting the three points,” said Agudelo, whose goal was his first since mid-May. “I was the one catching the end of the goal, but as soon as we scored, we wanted to stay focused and finish the job.
“It was a big win for us in a tough part of the season. I think the momentum is going to carry us into a huge week that we have coming up.”
The win was a boost for the Revolution ahead of this weekend’s meeting with New York City FC, who have gone 8-3-2 since mid-June and are close to locking up their first-ever playoff berth in their second season. A big part of NYCFC’s success has been their road form, as they boast the league’s best record away from home (6-5-3).
“I think last year they didn’t really know their identity, but now they do,” said Andrew Farrell. “It’s a really good team. Frank Lampard has been scoring goals for fun. It’s going to be a tough test for us, but I think we’re ready for it.”
Past Meetings: Revs hoping to learn from home loss to NYCFC two months ago
Lampard – whether he meant to or not – scored the only goal of the game with his thigh the last time these two teams squared off on July 6 at Gillette Stadium. It was the Revolution’s first home loss to NYCFC after beating them 1-0 in their expansion season in 2015.
The sides have also met three times at Yankee Stadium, most recently in March. Tierney’s deflected free kick answered Tommy McNamara’s early goal in a 1-1 draw.
Injury Report: Kamara and Bunbury back in the mix; Watson returns with a groin injury
Jay Heaps will have more attacking weapons at his disposal on Saturday night as Kei Kamara has returned from international duty (where he scored in his Sierra Leone return) and Teal Bunbury has come off the injury report after missing last weekend’s win with a foot injury.
Je-Vaughn Watson has also returned from international duty with Jamaica, but is listed as questionable ahead of the weekend with a groin injury. Bobby Shuttleworth (back) is also questionable.
“It’s important to get everyone back in this week and continue to build off the performance (against Colorado) and see where guys would insert themselves into what the guys did on the field,” said Heaps. “We’re a deep team and at the same time, we’ve got to make sure that we’re fighting and having the best competition for positions.”
NYCFC are essentially at full strength, as only Connor Brandt and Shannon Gomez – neither of whom have made an appearance this season – are on the injury report.
Final Thoughts: Agudelo says Revs able to “express themselves more” in new formation
“I feel like it’s giving an opportunity for other players to express themselves more and move around a bit freely, alternating each position,” Agudelo said of the 4-4-2 setup New England have used in the past three games. “We’re professionals out there, so we know if one player is out of position, how to cover for them.”