MLS Regular Season | Match #20
New England Revolution at Nashville SC
Friday, October 23 | 8:30 p.m. ET
Nissan Stadium | Nashville, Tenn.
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 (7:45 p.m. ET)
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New England Revolution
5th in Eastern Conference (7-5-7, 28 pts.)
Last Result | 2-1 loss vs. Philadelphia Union
Tajon Buchanan scored his second career goal on a long-range rocket as part of a late surge, but it wasn’t enough for the Revs to overcome the Philadelphia Union in a 2-1 loss on Monday night at Gillette Stadium. It was just their second loss in the last eight games (4-2-2) as they’ve found their form in the past month.
New England could officially clinch their spot in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs this weekend, but they’ll need a positive result on Friday night at Nashville and some additional help on Saturday. Details on the Revolution’s playoff-clinching scenarios can be found HERE.
8th in Eastern Conference (6-6-6, 24 pts.)
Last Result | 3-0 win vs. FC Dallas
Nashville is another team aiming to secure their playoff place, and the expansion side has looked more and more likely to claim a postseason spot in recent weeks, going 5-2-5 since late August. Gary Smith’s side has been particularly buoyed by its home form, going 4-0-3 at Nissan Stadium since the re-start this summer.
A stingy defense has been the key for Nashville, whose 17 goals against are tied for second-fewest in all of MLS. They’ve recently paired that with a newfound attacking flair, winning their last two games by scores of 3-1 over the Houston Dynamo, and 3-0 over FC Dallas.
Revolution winger Tajon Buchanan
Nobody’s stock has risen more in recent weeks than Tajon Buchanan, who has started seven of the past eight games and scored his second career goal in Monday’s loss to Philadelphia, a rocket from the top of the box. The 21-year-old then had a potential equalizer negated on a razor-thin offside decision just three minutes later.
Buchanan was the Revolution’s most active player when Nashville visited Gillette Stadium three weeks ago, registering seven shots, including three on target. As the Revs search for a way to break down a resolute Nashville side on Friday night, Buchanan’s speed and 1-v-1 ability on the dribble could be critical.
Nashville SC forward/midfielder Randall Leal
Most of Nashville’s success this season can be credited to their durable defense, anchored by the center back partnership of Walker Zimmerman and Dave Romney, as well as solid goalkeeping from MLS veteran Joe Willis, who leads the league with eight shutouts.
But in recent weeks the attack has come alive, and Costa Rican forward/midfielder Randall Leal has been key to their surge. Leal registered just one goal and zero assists in his first 13 MLS appearances, but he’s emerged with one goal and two assists in his last two starts, including one goal and one assist in Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over FC Dallas.
It was announced on Wednesday that Cristian Penilla has undergone surgery to repair a left foot fracture, with an expected recovery period in the range of 2-3 months. The Ecuadoran attacker currently leads the Revs with four assists, and had appeared in all 17 regular-season games prior to his injury.
Gustavo Bou, meanwhile, has missed three of the last four games with a hamstring injury, but head coach Bruce Arena said he’s “moving along well,” “much improved,” and he’s expected to return shortly.
There has also been progress for Carles Gil, who was cleared to return to full team training on Thursday as he makes his way back from surgery to debride his left Achilles tendon. Arena said the Revolution captain is also “moving along well,” and that they’d monitor his progress after Thursday’s session.
A trio of attacking weapons are expected to be unavailable for Nashville on Friday night as David Accam, Dominique Badji, and Hany Mukhtar are all listed as “not medically cleared” ahead of the match. Mukhtar is perhaps the biggest miss as the German DP has three goals and three assists on the season, including a brace in last weekend’s 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena
“I think it’s an important game for both teams. Certainly helps establish our positions for the playoffs and try and make us obviously eligible for the playoffs, so it’s an important game for both teams. I don’t know what to expect from Nashville. My guess is that their posture will be a little bit different than when they played here at Gillette [on Oct. 3].”
New England Revolution defender DeJuan Jones
“Right now, we’re in a pretty good spot for the playoffs, but this game is really important. This game will kind of put us over the hump. We’ll look to build off this game for momentum. We have a couple games left. We want to finish strong heading into the playoffs.”
Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith
“Well, in this very unique season with just two days to get ourselves prepared and be ready for New England, I will evaluate where the group is at physically (on Wednesday). We’ll all be in and it will be a very light recovery session to see where the players are. What we know is after an incredibly tough 90 minutes plus in New England, this group coming in have got all the qualities necessary to cause us a lot of problems. Well organized, they are an incredibly tough group, competitive, and with some really nice, creative dimensions to their team. We will be confident, no doubt about that after (Tuesday’s) victory. We took the number of three points that takes us to the points tally we are after, and Friday night will be no different. However, I think we will find it to be a very different encounter to what we have seen tonight."
Nashville SC forward/midfielder Randall Leal
“I’m really happy. I’m really happy that we scored, happy that we won and happy that we’re close to the playoff goals. This is what we want moving forward, we want to make the playoffs. Today we can celebrate, but tomorrow we need to start thinking about Friday. We need to win and get one step closer to making the playoffs."