FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A busy summer stretch continues for the New England Revolution on Wednesday night, when they’ll host Vancouver Whitecaps FC in an inter-conference showdown at Gillette Stadium.
Kickoff between the Revs (6-8-6, 24 pts.) and Whitecaps (4-9-8, 20 pts.) is set for 7 p.m., with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live for authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports Boston mobile app.
Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner, and Naoko Funayama will have the call in English on both NBCSB and 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:15 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.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston.
Current Form: Revs on longest unbeaten run since 2015; Whitecaps winless in six
Last week’s 2-2 draw at D.C. United left the Revs with plenty of mixed emotions.
The result stretched New England’s unbeaten run to eight games (4-0-4) – the longest active unbeaten streak in the league and the club’s longest since 2015 – and kept them in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, but the Revs were also frustrated to see a 2-0 lead slip away at Audi Field, particularly as they conceded from another set piece in the closing stages.
“I think at the end of a game, we’re 86 minutes in, it’s 90 degrees, we traveled the day of the game, guys are a little tired both mentally and physically,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “But to be a good team and be a good player, you have to fight through all of that, and deal with the closing minutes of each half better. I think, again, another lesson for us to learn from.”
While Arena has made set-piece defending a focus – the Revs have conceded from dead-ball situations in three straight games – the 2-2 draw last Friday night snapped a string of seven straight matches in which New England conceded one goal or less.
In fact, with just eight goals against through their eight-game unbeaten run, the Revs are tied with the San Jose Earthquakes and Orlando City SC for the best defensive record in the league during that period.
“I think, for the most part, we’ve done a good job,” Arena said. “Perhaps we’ve given away four points or so. Maybe even you could argue six points. But for the most part, defensively, we’ve played well. But that’s probably a combination of things. We’ve had some good goalkeeping, and our backline has played well. Collectively, we’ve played well when our opponents are in possession.”
New England’s task on Wednesday night will be to shut down a Whitecaps side that has struggled in recent weeks, suffering three straight losses as part of a six-game winless run (0-3-3). Vancouver have scored just once in those three losses, and have been outscored 10-1 during that stretch.
The Whitecaps find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with just 13 games to play, and the Revs know that likely means a desperate opponent coming to Gillette Stadium.
“We know Vancouver just came off a tough loss at home,” said Teal Bunbury, who has six goals in his last seven games in all competitions. “They’re going to be traveling out here (midweek), but we know that they’re going to come out here ready to play.
“It’s a big dogfight for us trying to get above that playoff line, and for them, as well, in the Western Conference. So it’s going to be a great matchup.”
Past Meetings: Revs aiming to stay unbeaten vs. Western Conference in 2019
These sides haven’t met in more than a year, most recently playing to a wild 3-3 draw last May at BC Place. That result extended the Revs’ unbeaten run against the Whitecaps to three games (2-0-1), including a pair of results in the Pacific Northwest.
Wednesday night’s showdown with the Whitecaps is also another opportunity for the Revs to continue their dominance of the West, as New England are unbeaten (5-0-2) against cross-conference opponents this year. That includes a perfect 3-0-0 record against the West at Gillette Stadium.
Injury Report: Bou expected to make Revolution debut on Wednesday night
Officially unveiled as the Revolution’s newest Designated Player one week ago, Argentine forward Gustavo Bou has received his P-1 visa and is expected to make his MLS debut on Wednesday night against Vancouver.
Bou made the trip to Washington, D.C., this past weekend to help forge bonds with his new teammates, and he stepped onto the training ground with them for the first time on Monday morning.
That’s not the only positive news for the Revolution, either, as center backs Antonio Delamea and Michael Mancienne are both back in the mix. Delamea will be available for selection as he returns from a one-game suspension, while Mancienne has returned to full training after missing more than two months – and 11 games in all competitions – with plantar fasciitis.
“It feels amazing just to be back amongst the boys, back with the team training, being able to move without pain, being able to walk without pain, run without pain,” said Mancienne. “You don’t realize how much you appreciate – how much I appreciate – being fully fit, 100 percent fit and being able to do everything I could normally do before I was injured.”
As that duo returns, however, Wilfried Zahibo will sit, as the central midfielder will serve a one-game suspension after being sent off in last week’s draw with D.C. United.
Final Thoughts: Bunbury says communication key to improving set-piece defending
“I think communication is one of the biggest things, making sure that we’re all on the same page,” Bunbury said when asked how the Revs can improve their set-piece defending. “The lapses are usually coming when we’re maybe a little tired, maybe later in games, so I think making sure that we’re all on the same page communicating, and having a little bit more mental toughness towards the end of a game is going to be important.”