With the first half of the regular season behind them, the New England Revolution will attempt to get the second half started on the right foot against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 10:30 p.m. ET.
The Revolution enter the match reeling from a five-game losing streak, with their latest setback coming in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire last Saturday. The loss not only prolonged the Revolution’s misery, but also brought their mark below .500 (7-8-2, 23 points).
While the Revolution find themselves in choppy waters, it’s been smooth sailing for the Galaxy, who enter Wednesday’s match unbeaten in their last seven (4-0-3). Last Saturday, they edged Salt Lake 1-0 in a game that saw Marcelo Sarvas score the winner in the 20th minute.
The midweek match will mark the first time since last June that the MLS originals have met. Revolution supporters remember the match fondly, as their squad blasted the defending champions 5-0 at Gillette Stadium.
Here’s what to watch for in a contest that’ll pit two squads currently traveling on opposite routes within their respective conferences:
Putting the past behind them. How does a team that’s lost its last five overcome its struggles? Well, one approach is to focus on the future, which is exactly what the Revolution are doing in their preparations for Wednesday’s contest. With the second half of the season upon them, their clash against the Galaxy is being viewed in the same light as a season opener rather than a run-of-the-mill midseason battle.
“Obviously, we’ve had some results that we’re not proud of,” Revolution forward Patrick Mullins told revolutionsoccer.net on Monday. “But I think we’re going to scratch and claw to make sure that we get the results that we need going into the last half of the season.”
Life without Dorman. One of the keys to the Revolution’s success prior to their recent struggles was the stout play of Andy Dorman, who brought much-needed bite to the six spot this season. But after suffering a potential season-ending MCL sprain during last weekend’s match, the Revolution have no choice but to make due without their steady veteran. Sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell is the favorite to slide into Dorman’s spot, while center backs A.J. Soares and Andrew Farrell may both figure into the equation as well. Regardless of who steps in at holding midfielder, Dorman’s performance during the first half will be a tough act to follow.
Galaxy a clear and present danger. For all the talk about Galaxy poster boys Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, the fact is that Bruce Arena’s club is one of the most balanced sides in the west. Sure, Keane and Donovan have combined for 10 goals and 8 assists so far this season. But don’t overlook the Galaxy defense, which is allowing less than a goal per game this season. With solid contributions coming from both ends of the pitch, it should come as no surprise that their plus-7 goal differential is second only to the plus-11 number owned by first-place Seattle.
“They’re a quality team,” Mullins said. “They’ve got great attacking players that can hit you all over the field, with Keane up top obviously is the main guy you’d focus on.”
Will Bengston be back for more? Not a whole lot went right for the Revolution during their 1-0 loss to the Fire last weekend, but there were positives to be drawn. One of the most notable was the performance of high-priced, yet rarely-used striker Jerry Bengtson, who came on in the 65th minute to help spur the offense. And that’s precisely what he did. Lurking in the final third, the Honduran created opportunities for his teammates in the waning stages, not the least of which was drawing an 84th-minute penalty. Though the Revolution failed to convert from the spot, Bengtson nevertheless made a strong case for additional minutes.
Embracing the underdog role. Prior to the season, the Revolution were the trendy pick for playoff success. With plenty of young talent and a system that played to their strengths, many were predicting big things for the local XI this season. To no one’s surprise, the club’s five-game losing streak has quieted the praise, which is just fine for the club’s youngest player, Diego Fagundez.
“Nobody’s talking about us right now,” Fagundez told revolutionsoccer.net on Monday. “But we just have to go out there, play our hardest, make sure we’re there to play and make sure we get some points from there.”