Thursday, October 3, 2013
Revs face tough test vs. Red Bulls
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the past three seasons, there’s been little more than pride on the line for the Revolution when they’ve approached the month of the October.
But now that they’re in the postseason hunt for the first time since 2009, Revolution center back A.J. Soares has seen the team’s spirit soar with the stakes high and the playoffs near.
“Our fight has been really good recently,” Soares said. “We're a team that's battling hard, and we have to keep doing that, and the football will come. But at this point in the season, you have to fight.”
Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw to the Dynamo didn’t exactly go the way the Revolution planned, but the consensus among the players and coaches was that it was an important, well-earned point. After all, the Dynamo had no intentions of making it a free-flowing, attacking affair, and yet, the Revolution were able to match their adversary’s energy and tempo throughout.
Yet, as encouraging as last weekend’s draw may have been, the Revolution, who currently sit only one point outside of the postseason bubble, have to quickly reset their game plan for the technically-sound and attack-minded Red Bulls this weekend. The Red Bulls enter Saturday’s match unbeaten in their last five (4-0-1) and could lock up a playoff berth with a win or draw against the Revolution.
Though many pundits are already penciling in a Red Bull victory, Soares believes that if the Revolution stay within themselves and bring the same level of intensity seen last weekend, an upset victory isn’t out of reach.
“We're just going to go out and do what we do and play to the best of our ability,” Soares said. “If we do that, we can get three points.”
BACK TO THE LINEUP FOR AGUDELO?
There’s no doubt that the Red Bulls present a formidable challenge to the Revolution this weekend. But as fate would have it, the local XI’s best chance at getting three points may rest on the shoulders of an ex-Red Bull striker.
Juan Agudelo, who’s been hampered by a strained hamstring for the past month, hasn’t been able to crack the lineup since suffering the injury in the latter stages of a 1-1 draw in Toronto on Aug. 30.
But after a strong showing off the bench against the Dynamo, it appears the 20-year-old striker is ready to reclaim his starting spot this weekend.
“I think I’m 100 percent healthy,” Agudelo said. “I'm doing extra work this week to get the fitness up there. I feel awesome.”
Agudelo said he harbors no ill will toward the team that traded him last season, but admitted that he will carry “a little bit” of extra motivation when he steps onto the pitch at Red Bull Arena.
If anything, the former Red Bull Homegrown Player is looking forward to playing in front of family and friends, and against some familiar faces, as well.
“It'll be exciting, especially with all of my family going,” Agudelo said. “It's going to be hard to find tickets, but it's going to be exciting to be playing against old teammates.”
SOARES DISMISSES SMACK TALK
The last time the Revolution and Red Bulls met on the pitch came in a Jun. 12 U.S. Open Cup clash -- a clash which saw the Revolution hammer home a 4-2 win.
After the game, Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said that his club “lost to a mediocre team” and chalked up the defeat as something that had more to do with his team’s disappointing form than the Revolution’s lively attack.
Soares, who was among the starters for that game, brushed aside Petke’s assertion, and said he doesn’t believe it’ll serve as bulletin board material with the sides reacquainting themselves this weekend.
“No, we don't listen to what they say. It has nothing to do with us,” Soares said. “He can say whatever he wants, it doesn't matter. I didn't know he said that, and it doesn't matter to me, either.”