It will be a classic, 1 vs. 2 battle in Foxborough, when the New England Revolution (5-3-4, 2nd in East) host D.C. United (6-2-3, 1st in East) on Saturday, May 23 at Gillette Stadium.
Seasons so far
Four Four Crew
The Revolution are a relatively young squad who boast a star-studded midfield. Last year was a good, yet painful one for the Revs – advancing to the MLS Cup finals, but losing to the L.A. Galaxy in extra time. It looked as though 2015 wasn’t going to go to plans for the team, as they didn’t score in their first three matches. However, they went on a nine-game unbeaten run after that and are firing on all cylinders up front. They have scored eleven goals in five games including two in their 4-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City mid-week. New England are currently riding a 16 match unbeaten streak in the confines of Gillette Stadium.
D.C. United came into 2015 with plenty of optimism following a very successful 2014 campaign which saw them win the Eastern Conference with an impressive 59 points and dominate the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. This optimism has transitioned onto the pitch, as D.C. are once again pacing the East. Injuries to a number of key strikers have hindered an already average offense. Their back four and goalkeeper have continued the form which saw them have the lowest goals against in the league last year and once their forwards are healthy, watch out MLS.
Players to watch
Apr 25, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps forward Octavio Rivero (29) goes up for a header against D.C. United defender Bobby Boswell (32) during the first half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
DCU – Bobby Boswell: The anchor of the back line has played every minute of every game for D.C. so far this season. It’s no surprise that with Boswell in the lineup, they boast one of the league’s best defenses. In fact, it took their opposition four complete games to solve their back line to kick off the season. It will be an offense-defense battle – the Revolution lead the East in goals scored.
NE – Charlie Davies: The New England Revolution’s record with Davies in the starting eleven is 5-0-2. Their record without the American in the starting lineup – 0-3-2. It would be a bit much to say the team lives and dies with Davies, but he is providing a significant chunk of their offense. The 28-year-old led the MLS Cup playoffs with four goals last year and hasn’t received his far share of attention since entering the league in 2011, when he scored eleven goals for…D.C. United.
DCU – Chris Pontius: With their three top strikers being out of service for the majority of this young season, United have been looking to the 28-year-old to provide the goals. Ben Olson and his staff will be hoping that Pontius can regain his form that saw him score 12 goals in 31 games three years ago for the Red and Black.
NE – Kelyn Rowe: Young and exciting to watch, the 2012 3rd overall pick is off to a nice start in his fourth MLS season. His three goals and three assists demonstrates Rowe’s ability to score or set up his teammates seemingly at will. The 5’8″ 150 pounder won’t be winning an aerial battles any time soon, but can take over a game from the center of the park if you let him.
DCU – Bill Hamid: The league’s Goalkeeper of the Year for 2014 is entering the prime of his career. The Home Grown Player from Annandale, Virginia is leading the league in goals against average (0.78) and has the fewest goals against (seven). Don’t go trying to say he is the beneficiary of a world-class defense now – the 24-year-old is second in MLS with an 81% save percentage.
This is the first of two meetings this season for the clubs, the second of which will be at RFK Stadium on June 21. Last year, the teams split the season series, with D.C. winning 2-0 at home in April and New England squeaked out a 2-1 victory in Foxborough a month later.
The latter match got scrappy in the second half and culminated in the 67th minute, when Davy Arnaud shoved Diego Fagundez to the ground.
The all-time series favours D.C. United, whom have won 29 of the 64 total matches between the two original MLS franchises. The Revs have won 26 and there have been nine draws. In addition to their advantage in the overall head-to-head, United have won two of the three playoff series between the two sides.
United have been without the services of Fabian Espindola for the past three games. The striker picked up a quad injury only two games into his season, which was set back thanks to a lengthy suspension. He has been joined on the injured list by fellow forwards Luis Silva (hamstring) and Eddie Johnson (heart condition). The trio scored a combined 29 goals in 2014, which represents more than half of the club’s total for last season.
Also out are midfielder Collin Miller (serious nerve surgery) and defender Steve Birnbaum (ankle), the latter of whom is expected to return soon.
The Revs have managed to stay relatively healthy, with defender Darrius Barnes (knee, out for at least six months) and midfielder Daigo Kobayashi (hamstring) being the lone exceptions.
No personnel on either side are suspended for the game.
Juan Guzman will be the man in charge of the night’s festivities. Guzman is in his fifth year on the MLS staff and will be assisted on the lines by Kermit Quisenberry and Felisha Mariscal. Silviu Petrescu is the fourth official.
The match is set to get underway at 7:30 PM Eastern time. It should be an absolutely beautiful day for soccer at Gillette Stadium with a high 19 degrees Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) and sunny. It will cool off as the sun sets, but nevertheless ideal weather for a nice day at the soccer ground.
The match can be heard on 98.5 Sports Hub and seen on Comcast SportsNet New England in the North East. For supporters in the nation’s capitol, they can tune in on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and listen in on 106.7 The Fan.