FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – More than four months since they last took the field in front of their loyal supporters the New England Revolution will finally return to Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon, when they’ll host Columbus Crew SC in their 2019 home opener.
The Revs (0-0-1, 1 pt.) and Crew SC (0-0-1, 1 pt.) will kick off at 2 p.m., with NBC Sports Boston televising the game and streaming the action for authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports Boston mobile app. Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner, and Naoko Funayama will have the call.
That trio will also handle English radio duties on 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA. Rob “Hardy” Poole and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will take calls for 30 minutes postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston.
For pregame coverage and analysis of lineups and storylines, Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux return for another season of Revolution Pregame Live, streaming at 1:15 p.m. on revolutionsoccer.net, as well as the club’s official Twitter and YouTube accounts. Links will also be available on the Revs’ official Facebook page.
Current Form: Both sides began their 2019 campaigns with a 1-1 draw
Carles Gil’s second-half equalizer capped a memorable debut for the 26-year-old Spaniard and left the Revs “satisfied” with a valuable road point from last weekend’s 1-1 draw at FC Dallas. Although the Revs ceded much of the possession to their hosts, head coach Brad Friedel was happy with his side’s defensive resolve, particularly during a second half in which New England created the better of the chances.
“I thought the second-half performance was pretty solid, to be honest,” Friedel said. “When we’re looking at where they had possession, they had 600-some-odd passes, most of all which were in their half of the field. That doesn’t bother us when we’re playing, especially away from home.
“Other than maybe the first 15 minutes, I thought we were decent, and I thought we were worthy to come out with at least a point.”
New England were pleased with a point in Dallas, but they’ve got their eyes on the full three this weekend as they return home, where they’ll play six times through the first two months of the season.
“At the end of the day, we need to be satisfied with a point (in Dallas), and now we need to build up this week at home,” said Antonio Delamea. “If we can make a great start to the season, then I think the whole season can be a success for us.”
The Revolution’s opponent on Saturday will be a Columbus Crew SC side under new ownership and led by a new head coach (former Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter), but featuring a roster very similar to the side that finished fifth in the East last year and advanced to the conference semifinals.
In fact, Columbus’ entire starting XI in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls was made up of returning players, led by Federico Higuain, Gyasi Zardes, and Wil Trapp.
“Columbus is always a good side, whether you have Gregg Berhalter (now head coach of the U.S. National Team) or Caleb Porter,” said Brad Knighton, who won the Revolution’s starting goalkeeper job in preseason. “I think they’re going to play similar to how they’ve played in previous years with a few tinkerings here and there.”
If Porter does put his own stamp on Crew SC, Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell should have a decent idea what to expect, having played for four years under Porter at the University of Akron.
“He likes to play with the ball on the ground,” Caldwell said. “Their transition from offense to defense, defense to offense, is very valuable to him. They like to really put pressure in your face as soon as you lose the ball, to try to get another quick attack … He really likes to instill those things in his team.”
Past Meetings: Crew SC holds a slight upper hand in recent series history
Columbus have won four of the past six meetings between these sides dating back to 2016, including a 1-0 win in their most recent visit to Gillette Stadium last May. The sides also played to an entertaining 2-2 draw in Columbus last year, when Teal Bunbury and Cristian Penilla were on target for the Revolution.
Although the rosters have largely turned over since, there is also the lingering history of a heated 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinal series, in which the Revs advanced on aggregate, 7-3.
Injury Report: Farrell (eye) remains out; J. Caicedo (muscle) pushing for debut
There was good news for Michael Mancienne this week as the veteran center back appears to be unscathed after pulling out of the starting lineup last weekend in Dallas following an injury suffered in pregame warmups. The 31-year-old has featured in training this week and isn’t listed on the Revolution’s official injury report.
Juan Fernando Caicedo, meanwhile, is hopeful of making his MLS and Revolution debut this weekend after missing the trip to Dallas with a muscle injury. The Colombian forward is listed as probable.
Right back Andrew Farrell remains sidelined by the eye injury that he suffered prior to the second leg of preseason, and Friedel has said the Revs are waiting on clearance from the doctors.
Final Thoughts: Friedel expecting both sides to bring an attacking mindset
“A lot of those players have been on the same page for quite some time,” Friedel said of Crew SC. “But it’s nothing that we can’t overcome and beat in our home stadium. It should be an exciting game. We’re going to want to attack, they’re going to want to attack, and let’s see who comes out winners. Hopefully, it’s us.”