FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Interim head coach Mike Lapper takes charge of the New England Revolution for the first time on Saturday night when the Revs return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes at Gillette Stadium.
Kickoff between the Revs (2-8-2, 8 pts.) and Earthquakes (3-5-2, 11 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m., with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports mobile app. Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle.
Radio listeners can catch the call in English on 98.5 The Sports Hub, including 30 minutes of postgame coverage. For the call in Portuguese, tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. with Revolution Pregame Live, as Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will break down the starting lineups and biggest storylines, streaming live on the Revolution’s official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels, as well as on revolutionsoccer.net.
Saturday night will be the Revolution’s annual “Salute to Heroes” as the club honors local military, police, fire and first responders by recognizing their daily dedication to our New England community. There will be several elements to the evening’s festivities, including unique “Salute to Heroes” themed numbers on the Revs’ jerseys. Those game-worn jerseys will be available via online auction at a later date, benefitting USO New England.
The club’s charitable Drive Series presented by Audi also continues on Saturday night, as the Revs will be collecting small $5 gift cards (Dunkin’, Shaw’s, CVS, etc.) for donation to the New England Center and Home for Veterans. More information is available HERE.
Current Form: Coaching change gives Revs “a new start;” Earthquakes finding form
A second consecutive heavy defeat – Wednesday night’s 5-0 loss in Chicago – proved to be the final match in charge for Brad Friedel, who was relieved of head coaching duties on Thursday afternoon to end his 18-month tenure in New England.
The Revs, bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 2-8-2 record, needed to make a change, and while the search for the eighth head coach in club history is underway in earnest, Friedel assistant Mike Lapper has taken charge in the interim and will lead the Revs on Saturday night.
With just one day to process the change and prepare themselves for their third match in eight days – and looking to rebound from back-to-back five-goal losses – Revolution players are expecting a significant emotional response in front of their hometown fans at Gillette Stadium.
“I expect a big reaction,” said Juan Agudelo. “Just everybody realizing, don’t take anything for granted. Yeah, I expect a huge reaction and I’m excited to see what’s to come.”
“You never want someone to have to lose their job, but as players, now we have to move forward,” added Teal Bunbury. “I think we have to look at each other and kind of really pump each other up and pick each other up, and try to get the most out of these remaining 22 games. I know we’re going to respond well.”
San Jose began the Matias Almeyda era with four consecutive losses to start the season, but in recent weeks the players have settled into their new head coach’s system, going 3-1-2 in their last six matches. The style is highlighted by aggressive man-marking, and it’s helped them keep back-to-back clean sheets.
Past Meetings: Revs aiming to stretch unbeaten run vs. Earthquakes to seven
New England and San Jose have played to three straight draws, including last year’s 2-2 stalemate at Avaya Stadium, where Diego Fagundez and Cristian Penilla were on the board for the visitors.
Those three draws have stretched the Revolution’s unbeaten run against the Earthquakes to six games (3-0-3), as the Revs won three consecutive meetings from 2013-15. Since these sides meet just once a season, New England haven’t lost to San Jose in more than seven years – a 1-0 defeat in the 2012 season opener.
Injury Report: Mancienne still a question mark as Revs continue busy stretch
Center back Antonio Delamea returned to the lineup midweek in Chicago after recovering from the concussion that sidelined him for the previous two games. Fellow central defender Michael Mancienne missed that trip, however, as he continues to deal with the effects of plantar fasciitis.
Lapper said he’d assess Mancienne’s availability on Friday, while also indicating that there could be some natural roster rotation as the Revs play their third game in eight days.
“We’re having three games on the trot, again, and injuries, and travel, and whatnot,” said Lapper. “We’ve got to get the healthiest people out on the field right now, and the guys that are going to be resilient and get a shutout.”
Rookie forward Justin Rennicks, meanwhile, has been named to the United States Under-20 roster for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland. He’ll depart following Saturday’s match against San Jose and will miss the Revs’ games against Montreal (May 18), D.C. United (May 25), and the LA Galaxy (June 2).
Final Thoughts: Bunbury says “it’s on us as players” to turn things around
“It’s unfortunate whenever something like this happens,” Bunbury said with regards to the coaching change. “It’s not only on the coach, but I think it’s on us as players. We have to follow directions and change what we’ve been doing. We need to get wins, and as players, this is what we do. Our job is to go out there and work our tails off, and to get wins. That’s where we get the enjoyment is from winning games, and we haven’t been doing that.
“We’ll try to take it as a reset, but I mean 12 games into the season, it’s tough to say, ‘Oh, we can reset it now.’ But that’s going to have to be our mindset.”