FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The busiest month of the 2017 season kicks off on Saturday night when the New England Revolution will host Orlando City SC at Gillette Stadium.
The match – originally slated to be the Revolution’s home opener on March 11 but postponed because of extreme weather conditions – will kick off at 7 p.m., with Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Naoko Funayama handling the call on CSN New England and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Portuguese radio listeners can tune into WMVX 1570 AM.
Revolution Pregame Live with Gabriella DiGiovanni and Jeff Lemieux will stream live on the Revs’ official Facebook page at 6:30 p.m., while Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on CSN New England. Matt McCarthy and Clyde Simms, meanwhile, will take calls postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
An exclusive interview with Revolution legend and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman will run during Revolution Pregame Live, and Twellman will be in attendance at Saturday night’s game as his organization ThinkTaylor partners with the Revs for the their third annual Concussion Awareness Night.
Fans attending the match are encouraged to bring new or gently used clothing items for donation. Collection bins will be placed at all Gillette Stadium gates, and donations will benefit those affected by the recent natural disasters in Houston and Sierra Leone.
Current Form: Back-to-back road losses have Revs relying on another home turnaround
A pair of frustrating road losses to New York City FC and D.C. United the past two weekends kept the Revolution winless away from home, and it leaves them seven points adrift of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference with nine games left on the schedule.
Five of those games will be at Gillette Stadium, where the Revs have won three straight to solidify one of the league’s best home records at 8-2-2.
“We’re a very tough team to beat at home,” said Juan Agudelo. “It’s very important for us to get three points. We need everyone to put in an effort because I know we’re going to miss a couple of guys (because of international duty), but we’re fairly confident at home.”
Orlando City also find themselves below the red line in the East, two points ahead of the Revs and five points back of the playoff places. It’s been a shocking fall for the Lions, who were top of the league with a record of 6-1-0 through two months, but have won just two games since late April.
Jason Kreis’ team will visit Foxborough on a seven-game winless run (0-5-2) – their last win arriving on June 30 – although they’re a respectable 1-3-2 in their last six games away from Orlando City Stadium.
Past Meetings: Revs, Lions have played to three draws through five meetings
A trio of 2-2 draws highlight the brief series between New England and Orlando, who’ve met just five times since the Lions entered the league as an expansion side in 2015.
Both teams have just one win in the series; the Revs beat Orlando City, 3-0, in September of 2015, while Orlando City earned their first and only win in the most recent meeting, a 3-1 triumph last July.
Late drama has been a hallmark of the series, as more than half of the goals (10 of 19) have been scored after the 70th minute, while five have been scored in the 90th minute or later.
Injury Report: Both sides missing several key pieces for critical showdown
International call-ups, injuries and suspensions will leave both the Revs and Orlando City short several probable starters for Saturday night’s match.
New England will have to cope without Antonio Delamea (Slovenia) and Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) on the backline as they’re away on international duty, while Kelyn Rowe remains sidelined by a right knee sprain.
The Revs should, however, regain the services of Lee Nguyen after the veteran midfielder missed the past two games through injury, while newcomer Krisztian Nemeth continues to inch closer to his debut as he recovers from a calf strain suffered in training last week. Both are listed as questionable on the Revolution’s official injury report, as is Diego Fagundez (quad).
Orlando will also be shorthanded on Saturday, as international duty (Cyle Larin, Yoshimar Yotun), injuries (Jonathan Spector, Will Johnson) and suspension (Cristian Higuita) will leave the visitors without five potential starters in Foxborough.
Final Thoughts: Farrell says that for the Revs, “the playoffs start now”
“For us, the playoffs start now,” said Andrew Farrell. “Every game is important. We must win a lot of the games left to give ourselves a chance, so that’s the mentality. Every game, we take it one by one, but every game is a playoff game. Orlando coming up on Saturday, it’s a must-win.”