Friday, July 12, 2013
Stakes are high in Revs vs. Dynamo
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Two points. That’s all that separates the sixth-place Revolution (6-5-6, 24 points) from a coveted postseason spot as the second half of the season commences on Saturday.
And which club currently sits in fifth place, two points clear of the Revolution? None other than Saturday’s opponent, the Houston Dynamo (7-6-5, 26 points).
Given the stakes, no one in the Revolution locker room is expecting the Dynamo -- who dropped from first to fifth due to a recent seven-game slide -- to step onto the pitch content to squeeze out a point on the road. Not with the way the table looks at the moment.
“They know that we are (going) to pass them if we win this game,” Revolution skipper Jose Goncalves said. “I think they realize that, and they’re coming here to make life difficult for us. They won’t stay back -- they’ll attack.”
Despite the fact that they went winless for nearly eight weeks before last week’s 1-0 triumph over the Union, one constant remained: their brash style of play.
“There’s no mistake that they are a physical team,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “They’re strong, their center backs fight hard and (so does) everyone on the field. That’s part of their makeup -- they’re a gritty team, and always difficult to play.”
That was certainly the case during the first Revolution-Dynamo matchup of the season back on May 18 in Houston, where the guests handed their hosts a surprising 2-0 defeat.
New England may have prevailed, but not before Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell head-butted Revolution striker Dimitry Imbongo inside the 18, bringing tempers to a boil before the interval. It was a scene reminiscent of the classic, mid-2000s battles between the former postseason rivals.
But Houston’s physicality won’t be the only thing the Revolution have to worry about. While the two-time defending conference champs may have stumbled through a recent three-game offensive blackout, Heaps is wary of a revitalized Dynamo attack that surged through the Union defense with precision and pace during last week’s win.
“I think they won at home pretty significantly (last week),” Heaps said. “They probably should’ve had more goals, and it’s going to be a tough task for us.”
Granted, the Dynamo will be without the services of starters Will Bruin (Gold Cup), Corey Ashe (Gold Cup) and Brad Davis (injury) for Saturday’s matchup. But with Boniek Garcia, Giles Barnes and a convalescing Omar Cummings all ready to shoulder the load, the Revolution still have plenty to worry about.
“They still have a lot of good players,” Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen said. “So it’s not like they’re lacking depth at all. We’ve got to be wary of those guys and come out be confident.”
Confidence at home is always paramount in a crucial “six-pointer” like the one set for Saturday, especially with the second half of the season underway. After last year’s second-half struggles, a win would go a long way toward pointing the Revolution in the right direction.
But Heaps isn’t tempted to look too far into the future when it comes to what’s really at stake this weekend.
“I think we pay attention to it being a home game (against the) Eastern Conference,” Heaps said. “We know where we stand. I think if you get caught up in trying to think about all the scenarios, and all that extra stuff, you lose.”