FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – This weekend begins a stretch in which the New England Revolution will play five of their next six games at home, as they’ll host expansion side FC Cincinnati for the first time on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Kickoff between the Revs (0-2-1, 1 pt.) and FCC (1-1-1, 4 pts.) is set for 4 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 there, and on the radio on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Portuguese radio listeners can catch the action on 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
For pregame coverage and analysis of lineups and storylines, Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will host Revolution Pregame Live, streaming at 3:15 p.m. on revolutionsoccer.net, as well as the club’s official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts.
Postgame coverage will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston, while Rob “Hardy” Poole and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will take calls for 30 minutes postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs remain in search of first win; Cincinnati flying high after home debut
New England felt hard done by last weekend’s loss in Toronto, where a controversial offside decision allowed TFC’s second goal to stand in what was ultimately a 3-2 setback, the Revolution’s second straight loss after opening the season with a draw in Dallas.
There were, however, positives to take from the performance at BMO Field, where the Revs again showed resiliency in a second-half fightback. But that compete-level needs to be high for 90 minutes, and the Revs will look to come out of the gate flying on Sunday afternoon against FC Cincinnati.
“I think it has shown that coming out in the second half of most of the games, we’re showing that resiliency,” said Teal Bunbury. “But we’re trying to make sure that we can do that from the beginning of the game, where it’s not we’re down a goal or maybe tied – to step out on the field the first 10, 15 minutes and just put teams away.”
Cincinnati, just three games into their MLS journey, have already proven that they belong. Despite a heavy opening-day loss in Seattle, FCC have responded with back-to-back positive results against both of last year’s MLS Cup finalists.
A 1-1 road draw at defending champions Atlanta United FC was followed up with a thumping 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers, putting the cherry on top of Cincinnati’s first MLS home game at Nippert Stadium.
“Beating Portland 3-0 is never easy. We need to take them seriously,” said Antonio Delamea as the Revs prepare to play five home games in the next month. “Like I said two weeks ago (before the home opener), we need to start making Foxborough our fortress. I think this is an excellent chance at a turning point for us.”
Past Meetings: Revs and FC Cincinnati set to square off for the first time
This will be the first-ever meeting between the Revs and FC Cincinnati, who joined as Major League Soccer’s 24th club this season after spending the past three years in the USL. The Revs will make their inaugural visit to the Queen City in mid-summer, on July 21.
Cincinnati will be the 17th new side the Revs have faced since the league’s first expansion in 1998, and they’ll be looking to improve upon their 5-6-5 record in first-ever meetings. Most recently the Revs played to a 1-1 draw in their first match against LAFC last September at Banc of California Stadium.
Injury Report: Farrell, J. Caicedo back in the mix; Buchanan sidelined by stress fracture
Initially expected to be sidelined until early April, veteran right back Andrew Farrell was a surprise addition to the Revolution’s match-day squad last weekend in Toronto, having received full medical clearance just two days prior. The 26-year-old defender is now pushing towards full fitness after being sidelined for a month.
There was also good news for Juan Fernando Caicedo, who recovered from the muscle injury that sidelined him for the first two games and made his Revolution debut with a six-minute cameo at BMO Field.
Tajon Buchanan, however, missed that trip to Toronto with a stress fracture in his leg, and the rookie forward will need to wait before building upon the MLS debut he made in the home opener against Columbus.
Justin Rennicks (U.S. Under-20 National Team), Gabriel Somi (Syria) and Zach Herivaux (Haiti) are also unavailable for Sunday while on international duty, while Brian Wright remains on loan to Birmingham.
FC Cincinnati will also be missing several key pieces to injury and international duty, as five players – Darren Mattocks, Alvas Powell, Allan Cruz, Kendall Waston, and Frankie Amaya – have been called to represent their national teams. Mattocks, Powell, Cruz, and Waston have all played significant minutes through three games.
Fanendo Adi, meanwhile, seems likely to miss the trip to Foxborough with an ankle injury, after starting FC Cincinnati’s first three matches.
But while FCC will no doubt feature some new personnel on Sunday afternoon, Revolution head coach Brad Friedel isn’t expecting the visitors to change their approach, which focuses on sitting deep, absorbing pressure, and using their speedy attackers to hit on the counter.
“I think you see the identity of the team. I don’t think that’s going to change,” Friedel said, while noting that the potential absence of Adi could make FCC a little less direct and the absence of Waston plays a role on set pieces. “I don’t really see them changing the way they’re going to play. Whether they play a 4-5-1 or a 4-4-2, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Final Thoughts: Friedel says Penilla “a big part of the team” after first sub appearance
“His status is a very, very, very big and important part of our team. There’s no doubt about that,” Friedel said of Cristian Penilla, who made his first substitute appearance last weekend after starting his first 35 appearances with the Revs. “The first-half performance against Columbus, it was there to see – it wasn’t as energetic as we wanted it to be, and we felt that when Diego (Fagundez) came on, that he added an extra spark. There’s really no more or less to it than that.
“Cristian Penilla will be back in training this week and you saw when he came on (in Toronto), he provided a little spark for us. He will play a lot of minutes for us this year, and he’ll be a big part of the team going forward.”