MLS Regular Season | Match #15
New England Revolution vs. Nashville SC
Saturday, October 3 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Watch: NBC Sports Boston
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub (English), 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA (Portuguese)
Revolution Pregame Live presented by Dan O’Brien Automotive Group (6:45 p.m.)
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New England Revolution
5th in Eastern Conference (5-3-6, 21 pts.)
Last Result | 2-0 win at D.C. United
Late goals from Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa – both assisted by Cristian Penilla – lifted the Revs to a 2-0 victory over D.C. United on Sunday night at Audi Field, pushing New England into fifth place in the Eastern Conference on the strength of their first back-to-back wins of the season.
Matt Turner also registered his fifth clean sheet of 2020 to match his single-season career high, as the Revs lowered their team goals against average to 0.86 (12 goals against in 14 games) and moved to 3-1-1 in their last five games.
9th in Eastern Conference (4-5-4, 16 pts.)
Last Result | 1-1 draw vs. Houston Dynamo
Nashville SC have gone 3-1-3 in their last seven games and currently sit above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference as they try to secure a postseason berth in their first year in MLS.
Led by Gary Smith – who guided the Colorado Rapids to an MLS Cup title in 2010 – Nashville have been particularly strong defensively, conceding just 14 goals in 13 games. Of the expansion side’s four wins this season, three have been by a score line of 1-0.
Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell
Scott Caldwell has emerged as an everyday starter in recent weeks, going the full 90 minutes in each of the past three games to help the Revs go 2-0-1 in that stretch while conceding just one goal. Especially in the absence of fellow central midfielder Matt Polster the veteran Caldwell has taken on a bigger role, serving as one of New England’s leaders in the middle of the park.
“I think he’s an experienced player, he communicates well, he keeps it simple, gets the ball moving,” head coach Bruce Arena said of Caldwell. “I think that probably the biggest plus is his ability to communicate and organize players in the midfield, something I think we’ve been lacking throughout this season. Scott has done a real good job in that regard.”
Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman
Along with fellow center back Dave Romney, former LAFC and FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman is one of two players to have played every minute of Nashville’s first 13 games. The 27-year-old has played a key role in the expansion side’s resolute defense, ranking fourth league-wide in clearances (65) and 10th in blocks (12), according to Opta.
Zimmerman is also a threat on set pieces, ranking fourth on the team in shots on target (6) and scoring the first goal in club history back on February 29 against Atlanta United.
A scary incident on Sunday night at Audi Field saw Matt Polster leave the game shortly before halftime, and the 27-year-old midfielder was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion. He’ll miss Saturday night’s meeting with Nashville and the Revs will take a cautious approach with his recovery, but there is good news as Polster reported feeling better earlier this week.
Alex Büttner missed that trip to D.C. with a hamstring injury, and while he’ll miss a second straight game on Saturday night, he’s expected to be back in action in the near future.
“The injuries to Büttner and Polster are really short-term injuries,” said Arena. “They should be back pretty quickly. I think all teams will be rotating players to some degree. To what extent, I don’t know, but that’s certainly going to be the case over the next couple of weeks.”
Nashville’s inaugural season has been plagued by injuries as the expansion side lists seven players as “not medically cleared” ahead of Saturday’s visit to New England. That list includes leading scorer Daniel Rios – who had found the back of the net in back-to-back games – as well as MLS veterans David Accam, Dominique Badji, Abu Danladi, Jimmy Medranda, Alex Muyl, and Ken Tribbett.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena
“They’ve been kind of an unknown, because they missed the tournament in Orlando in the bubble because of the coronavirus – and the two games at the start of the year, I think everybody forgets. We really only started seeing Nashville in August once everyone returned from Orlando. … To date, I believe they have four wins, [five] losses, and a couple of draws. They’ve played well at home. I don’t think they’ve been on the road that much. They’ll be challenging. They play hard, they play well defensively, so they’ll be a team that’s going to be difficult to break down.”
New England Revolution winger Tajon Buchanan
“I think coming back in this year, taking this offseason and really working on my craft has helped a lot. And coming in this year, I had a really good preseason and that kind of made everything a lot easier and the transition a lot easier. From there, just gaining the trust from your coaches and teammates has helped huge and hopefully I can just keep progressing as I said. I still believe I can bring a lot to the table and I still have a lot to show.”
Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith
"I would agree with that you know (New England) have got some nice dimensions to their group and I think any team that puts work into all areas of their game becomes very difficult to play against. … They’ve proven with their league position at the moment and it doesn’t lie, that they’re one of the in-form sides and it certainly won’t be easy out there, but I think we’ve shown over the past and I don’t think anyone should be writing us off, that we are more than capable of going to these places even in the very stages of our franchise, we are capable of going to these places and getting results. I firmly believe we are capable of that.”
Nashville SC goalkeeper Joe Willis
“(Matt Turner) has been a great goalkeeper. I think his biggest asset is his shot stopping ability. He’s very athletic, he’s a solid goalkeeper and he makes the saves he’s supposed to make and then every once in a while, he makes the save he’s not supposed to make. He’s been tough to beat and we’ll definitely have to be aware of them. I think we have good attacking players on our side, and although the goals may not be flowing right now, but I still think the ability is there. I have all the confidence in the world in the attacking players that we have, that we’ll be able to pick one or two up while we’re there.”