FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – “This is a huge one.”
That’s what New England Revolution (2-4-4, 10 pts.) midfielder Scott Caldwell said about Saturday night’s meeting with Real Salt Lake (2-6-2, 8 pts.), who’ll visit Gillette Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Both sides are currently tied for ninth place in their respective conferences and are looking to jump-start a climb up the table.
Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Naoko Funayama will have the English call of Saturday night’s action on CSN New England and 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into WMVX 1570 AM.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on CSN New England, while Rob “Hardy” Poole and Shalrie Joseph will take your calls postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs look to strong home form (6-0-2 in last eight) to spark turnaround
It’s been a frustrating month for the Revolution, who’ve gone winless (0-2-3) in their last five games despite playing some of their best attacking soccer in that stretch. That’s because, according to head coach Jay Heaps, the Revs have been too loose at the defensive end of the field.
“We’ve been good going forward; numbers have been dangerous. I feel like we were unlucky to not get [a goal] in Columbus,” Heaps said. “But defensively, we’re just a little bit weak, a little bit soft, giving up soft goals.
“Quite frankly, since the D.C. game (a 2-2 draw on April 22), we’ve had three games in a row where soft goals against [have hurt us], and they’ve cost us a lot of points.”
The good news is that the Revs have kept two clean sheets this year, both at Gillette Stadium, where they’ll play seven of their next 11 games through the month of July.
Real Salt Lake are in a period of transition, having parted ways with Jeff Cassar in late March while hiring former New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke as his replacement. RSL started brightly under their new boss, winning back-to-back games against Vancouver and Colorado, but they’ve since suffered three straight losses while being outscored by a margin of 9-1.
“I think Mike is getting his feel into the group and definitely changing the team in his identity,” said Heaps. “They play hard, they play physical, and they work hard, so we’re going to be ready for a group that is hungry.”
Past Meetings: Revs have forged turnaround vs. RSL the past two years
For years, Real Salt Lake was a dominant force in their series with the Revolution. Between 2010 and 2014 the Revs went winless (0-6-1) against RSL, including three straight losses in Foxborough.
That changed dramatically upon RSL’s last visit to Gillette Stadium, however, as the Revs exploded for a 4-0 win against the Claret-and-Cobalt in April 2015. The victory featured goals from four different players, including Scott Caldwell, who bagged the first goal of his professional career.
New England kept a second consecutive clean sheet against RSL last year, playing to a 0-0 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium in mid-July.
Injury Report: Agudelo, Bunbury both questionable ahead of Saturday night’s match
Teal Bunbury missed out on last weekend’s trip to Columbus while dealing with back pain, and the Revolution forward remains questionable ahead of Saturday’s meeting with RSL. He’s joined on the injury report by leading scorer Juan Agudelo (six goals in 10 appearances), also questionable with an “upper extremity injury.”
Kei Kamara, meanwhile, has missed the Revs’ last two games while he and his wife await the birth of their second child.
RSL had just 14 field players available for training midweek, according to Chris Kamrani of The Salt Lake Tribune, with Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo, Danny Acosta and Justen Glad with the U.S. U20 national team, and Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Jordan Allen, David Horst, Chad Barrett and Albert Rusnak all nursing injuries.
Final Thoughts: Caldwell says Revs need to “just get the win” after tough stretch
“Being in front of our supporters again, we want to make this a tough place to play and I think it has been so far this year,” said Caldwell. “But winning our first two games and then the last two ties, we want to get back to that winning stretch.
“We’ve got to all be focused on defend first, attack later, and get our goals eventually. I think it’s important that we, first and foremost, just get the win.”