FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – An epic showdown looms between the red-hot New England Revolution and longtime foe D.C. United, as the two sides are set to square off on Friday night at Audi Field.
The Revs (6-8-5, 23 pts.) will put their MLS-best seven-game unbeaten run (4-0-3) on the line against D.C. (8-5-7, 31 pts.), currently second in the crowded Eastern Conference. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with national television coverage on ESPN (and ESPN Deportes) with commentary from Jon Champion, Revolution all-time leading scorer Taylor Twellman, and Sebastian Salazar.
Local radio listeners can hear Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner’s call on both 98.5 The Sports Hub and SiriusXM FC Channel 157, as well as the Portuguese call on 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Revolution Pregame Live will hit the road once again as Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will break down the lineups and analyze the major storylines from Audi Field. Pregame coverage begins at 6:15 p.m. ET, streaming live on the club’s official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels, as well as on revolutionsoccer.net.
Friday night will also feature a unique doubleheader as the Special Olympics Unified teams from both the Revolution and D.C. United will play on the Audi Field pitch at 4:30 p.m. Gates will open at 4 p.m., and fans are encouraged to arrive early to cheer on the Special Olympics athletes prior to the first-team match.
Current Form: Revs officially the hottest team in MLS; D.C. has unbeaten run snapped
New England can officially lay claim to the title of “hottest team in MLS” as they stretched their unbeaten run to seven games (4-0-3) last week in Colorado, outlasting the Rapids in a match delayed by severe weather three times to claim a gutsy 2-1 win.
It was the Revolution’s second straight win away from home – something they hadn’t done since 2015 – and on Friday night they’ll look to win a third straight regular-season road game for the first time in more than 11 years.
“We’re showing that we’re not only dangerous at home, but we’re dangerous on the road, as well,” said center back Jalil Anibaba. “That’s something that isn’t very easy to do in this league. Overall (we’re) building confidence and momentum moving forward.”
Sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena has implemented a style and system that seem to suit the Revs, lining them up most frequently in a 4-2-3-1 setup with Luis Caicedo and Wilfried Zahibo as deeper-lying midfielders behind playmaker Carles Gil.
Arena said that setup could be fluid, however, particularly as new faces – like recently-signed Designated Player Gustavo Bou – join the mix and bring their own strengths to the group.
“We have and we haven’t,” Arena said when asked if they’d settled on a formation. “As we have injuries or we add a player or two, things might change based on the strengths and weaknesses of those particular players on our team, as well.”
D.C. United had been unbeaten in five prior to last week’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas, but that run featured four draws and in actuality they’ve struggled a bit since mid-May, going 1-2-5 in their last eight matches. They also lost Luciano Acosta to a red card on that trip to Texas, and the United maestro will be suspended on Friday.
The Revs are still very much preparing for a dangerous D.C. side, however, particularly with Paul Arriola recently returned from Gold Cup duty and Wayne Rooney leading the way in both goals (10) and assists (5).
“Clearly Wayne Rooney is a player we have to be well aware of; if we’re not, we’re pretty foolish,” said Arena, who coached D.C. to the first-ever MLS Cup title in 1996. “Despite the loss of Acosta, they have plenty of good players that can play their roles and make them operate without missing a beat.
“They’ve been good on attacking restarts, so we’ve got to be aware of that. That’s part of our game we still have to get better. So it’s going to be a good game. I think it’ll be a quality contest and I look forward to seeing how our team sizes up with them.”
Past Meetings: Revs, D.C. played to dramatic draw seven weeks ago in Foxborough
New England and D.C. will be meeting for the second time in less than two months, as these sides played to a 1-1 draw on May 25 at Gillette Stadium. Juan Agudelo’s second-half header put the 10-man Revs in front after Matt Turner was sent off in the 56th minute, but a controversial Rooney penalty – awarded via Video Review – pulled the visitors level in the dying moments.
There’s little question that D.C. have had the upper hand in recent series history, as the Revs are just 1-5-4 in their last 10 regular-season meetings with United. It’s been a particularly rough go in the District as the Revs have lost on their last six visits to Our Nation’s Capital, including last year on their first-ever visit to Audi Field.
Injury Report: Delamea suspended; Bou awaiting P-1 visa before officially joining roster
There will be at least one change to the Revolution lineup on Friday night as center back Antonio Delamea – who’d started the past two matches, both wins – will be suspended for yellow-card accumulation. He’s likely to be replaced by Anibaba, who’d started the first five games of the Revs’ unbeaten run.
“That’s one thing I’ve realized since I’ve been at the club – whoever steps in at the back is willing and ready to do the job,” Anibaba said. “Nothing’s changed.”
Brian Wright will also be unavailable as he remains on loan with Birmingham Legion FC, but Zach Herivaux has returned from Gold Cup duty with Haiti, and Michael Mancienne recently returned to full training as he makes his way back from the plantar fasciitis injury that has sidelined him since early May.
Bou, meanwhile, hopes to be on the field with his new Revolution teammates as soon as possible, but won’t officially be added to the New England roster until he receives his P-1 visa.
Final Thoughts: JF Caicedo says Arena has given him “trust” and “confidence”
“Ever since (Arena) stepped in, he’s given me a lot of trust, a lot of confidence,” said JF Caicedo (through an interpreter), who scored his first MLS game winner last week in Colorado. “He’s really a coach that gets close to the players. We’ve been able to chat a bit and talk about what he wants me to do on the field, and thanks to that, I think my performance has improved over the last few games.”