FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A pair of teams with just one combined loss between them will meet on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, where the New England Revolution will host Western Conference foe FC Dallas.
The red-hot Revs (3-1-1, 10 pts.) will put their four-game unbeaten run on the line against FC Dallas (1-0-3, 6 pts.), one of two remaining unbeaten teams in MLS. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and also streaming the action on their web site and mobile app.
Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Naoko Funayama will have the call on NBC Sports Boston, as well as on the radio on 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2 and on SiriusXM FC Channel 157. Portuguese radio listeners can tune into WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will break down the starting lineups and storylines on Revolution Pregame LIVE, streaming on the Revs’ official Facebook page at 7 p.m., while Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston.
Current Form: Both sides riding four-game unbeaten runs into Saturday night
New England have been one of the league’s hottest teams in recent weeks, going 3-0-1 and outscoring opponents 10-3 since a season-opening loss in Philadelphia. Last weekend they put a 10-man Montreal Impact team to the sword, rolling to a 4-0 victory to improve to 9-0-2 in their last 11 games at Gillette Stadium.
With 10 points from five games the Revs are off to one of the best starts in club history, but players and coaches have all attributed that fast start to the work they’ve put in on the training ground, and they’re well aware that the work must continue if they’re to keep building on this solid foundation.
“Everybody puts their best foot forward to [employ] the game plan we’re trying to set out on the weekend. I think that’s the main reason we’ve gotten a couple results,” said Jalil Anibaba. “But the thing about this league and the thing about having a good start is that you have to build on that.
“Any team can beat any team at any given moment. We look at that as a positive, but we also know that we really haven’t done anything (yet).”
FC Dallas will also carry a four-game unbeaten run into the weekend, having gone 1-0-3 through a four-game home-stand to kick off their 2018 campaign. While FCD will be somewhat disappointed to have taken just six points from a possible 12 at home, they’ll be buoyed by their defensive performances, having conceded a league-low three goals through the season’s opening month.
New pieces like Reto Ziegler and Anton Nedyalkov have played significant roles on Dallas’ backline, but it’s through the midfield where Oscar Pareja’s group finds much of their strength.
“They possess a lot of players that can break quickly from midfield and get forward,” said Revs head coach Brad Friedel. “They also possess a number nine in (Maxi) Urruti that works tirelessly. We can’t be loose in our possession in the middle of the midfield, because if (Mauro) Diaz gets the ball, he’ll be able to release whoever plays, whether it’s (Michael) Barrios or (Roland) Lamah or Urruti.”
Past Meetings: New-look Revs aiming to put an end to six-year FC Dallas hex
There was a time when the Revolution were a dominant force in their series with FC Dallas, going 15-3-0 in an eight-year stretch from 2001 to 2009, with a U.S. Open Cup title sprinkled into the mix in 2007.
Dallas have decidedly turned the tables in recent years, however, winning the last six regular-season meetings dating back to 2012, and sprinkling in their own U.S. Open Cup title in 2016.
While the Revs have been one of the league’s best home sides in recent years, going 18-2-4 in their last 24 games at Gillette Stadium, FCD have won on back-to-back trips to Foxborough, including a 4-2 victory in their most recent visit in May of 2016.
Of course, that history largely goes out the window on Saturday night, with Friedel and his new staff leading a Revolution team that features nine fresh faces since last year.
Injury Report: Angking the lone player listed on New England’s injury report
Cody Cropper has completely recovered from the concussion that sidelined him briefly in recent weeks, leaving Isaac Angking as the only player listed on the Revolution’s official injury report. Angking is progressing well as he continues to recover from a non-soccer related medical emergency.
Final Thoughts: For hot start to continue, “everyone has to be in it together”
“We’re all in it together, and we know that if one guy isn’t working with the guy next to him, then it’s not going to work, so everyone has to be in it together,” said Scott Caldwell. “It’s still so early in the season. We have had a little bit of success, but there’ve been a lot of negatives that we can work on and continue to improve, and that’s something we have to do this weekend against Dallas.”