Friday, August 1, 2014
W2W4: Revs-Red Bulls, Sat. 7 p.m.
By Brian O'Connell
Three days after snapping an eight-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory over the Rapids, the New England Revolution (8-11-2, 26 points) will look to pick up another win on Saturday against the Red Bulls (5-6-10, 25 points) at Red Bull Arena. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Revolution got back in the win column for the first time in over two months after Lee Nguyen led the way with two goals and an assist against Colorado. Kelyn Rowe added another to cap the scoring during Wednesday’s clash at Gillette Stadium.
While the Revolution were in the process of putting their losing streak behind them, the Red Bulls were matching wits with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday. Joao Plata put the hosts on the board in the first half, but Thierry Henry’s second half blast secured an important road point for the Red Bulls.
Here’s what to watch for in a match that will feature two sides looking to rediscover the form that put them near the top of the conference prior to Memorial Day:
What a difference a win makes. With a short turnaround ahead of Saturday’s match, the Revolution won’t get the opportunity to savor Wednesday’s long-awaited win. That’s just as well, as they’ll look to use the momentum to enter Red Bull Arena more confident than they’ve been since Memorial Day weekend. In fact, defender Andrew Farrell alluded to the idea that what we saw on Wednesday could be a preview of coming attractions for the offense.
“This was a great game for us to get the win,” Farrell told the media on Thursday. “And I think some of our offensive guys are going to start clicking now.”
Can Nguyen continue to spur the offense? Following his man of the match performance on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Nguyen on Saturday. And with good reason. When Nguyen is at the top of his game, success is usually a given for the Revolution. Case in point: In games in which the shifty midfielder scribbles his name onto the score sheet, the Revolution are 5-1-1. No doubt they’ll need Nguyen to be at his best against a potent Red Bull attack.
Ready for Red Bull attack. New York enters Saturday’s match tied atop the goal-scoring charts with 39 goals in 21 games this year, and it’s no surprise how they got there. With leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips enjoying a breakout year, and Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill both playing at the top of their games, the Red Bulls are getting plenty of bang for their buck this season. Even so, defender Kevin Alston says the Revolution will be up for the challenge.
“It’s something you get excited for,” Alston told the media on Thursday. “When you’re a defender, you want to defend and you like the challenge, and what better challenge than New York? They got a good team and they’ve got some great weapons. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to try and stop them.”
Lineup changes on tap? Revolution coach Jay Heaps didn’t hesitate to make lineup changes during the course of his team’s losing streak. A combination of injuries, unimpressive results, and a trying July schedule (nine games in the last 35 days) all opened the door for a number of different combinations since late-May. Now, with a win in their back pocket and a well-deserved bye week approaching, it’ll be interesting to see what, if any, tweaks Heaps makes to the XI on Saturday.
Staying grounded. While there was plenty of excitement and joy to go around in the wake of Wednesday’s win, Revolution striker Charlie Davies was quick to mention that the battle is far from over. With August already upon us and the homestretch coming into view, points will become more important with each passing week. As such, Davies said the key to continuing their success is staying humble and level-headed.
“I think it’s very important that we don’t get too high after this win,” Davies said after Wednesday’s game. “You still have to keep an even keel and still know we have to get better. It’s important this Red Bull away match we continue to play the way we did tonight.”