There’s nothing better than a short turnaround to put an embarrassing loss on the back burner. In that vein, the New England Revolution (7-9-2, 23 points) will look for quick redemption against FC Dallas (7-7-5, 26 points) on Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET.
The Revolution enter Saturday’s match anxious to erase the memories of a 5-1 thrashing they took from the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday at the StubHub Center. The match not only extended the team’s losing streak to six, but the five goals conceded marked the most the Revolution have given up in more than four years.
On the flip side, Dallas is not only unbeaten in its past four (2-0-2), but will be well-rested going into Saturday’s match. In their last league match back on July 4, the Hoops grabbed a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in front of the home crowd.
With the Revolution anxious to end their streak, and Dallas aiming to extend its run, here’s what to watch for during Saturday’s clash in FC Dallas Stadium.
Tired legs not the primary concern for Revolution: Saturday’s duel with Dallas will be the third game of an eight-day span that will see the Revolution rack up nearly 11,000 air miles before they return back to Boston. Naturally, coach Jay Heaps will need to manage his team accordingly. But according to the third-year coach, the bigger challenge is getting his players’ minds off of Wednesday’s loss.
“It’s more psychological,” Heaps told the media on Friday. “Everyone was down after the game, and rightfully so. We should be, because it was a terrible performance across a lot of sectors. Today, it was more about anger, more about getting back up and saying ‘Let’s get back after it.’”
Who’ll get the call at defensive midfielder?: For the second straight game, Heaps will be forced to shuffle his lineup to accommodate the gaping hole at the six spot. After Andy Dorman suffered an MCL sprain in last weekend’s contest against Chicago, A.J. Soares was given the start on Wednesday. But a 29th-minute red card will make Soares a bystander for Saturday’s match while he serves his one-match ban. Without Dorman or Soares available, Heaps could tab Scott Caldwell, who manned the holding midfielder’s spot last year, against Dallas. Another option: defender Andrew Farrell, who saw time at the spot during the preseason.
Opportunity on the horizon for reserves?: With many regulars already weary from the travel, as well as the high-paced tempo of Wednesday’s match, Heaps will likely ask his some of his backups to step up on Saturday. After watching his defense get torched for five goals, Heaps might call upon defenders Kevin Alston and Stephen McCarthy to strengthen the rear. In the midfield, substitute Steve Neumann may have played himself into consideration for a start. Up top, Jerry Bengtson and Charlie Davies may be in line for minutes given the lack of production seen from Patrick Mullins as of late.
“You’re always trying to find the right pieces,” Heaps said. “But at the same time, there are guys who deserve an opportunity because certain guys aren’t getting it done.”
Will Heaps go with the 4-4-2 formation again?: Looking for any opportunity to provide his team with a much-needed spark, Heaps scrapped the customary 4-1-4-1 for the more traditional 4-4-2 formation on Wednesday. While the early returns weren’t exactly positive, the early red card to Soares robbed the Revolution of an opportunity to get fully acclimated to it. Whether Heaps sticks with the four-man midfield, or reverts back to a five-man look, all depends upon who mans the six spot. If it’s Caldwell, expect the Revolution to return to the 4-1-4-1. If it’s Farrell, the 4-4-2 may get another look on Saturday.
Keeping the right perspective: A six-game losing streak isn’t exactly a confidence booster by any means, but to say that the season is doomed for the Revolution is a stretch. Despite their recent woes, the Revolution remain above the red playoff line. Plus, with plenty of parity in the East this year, the conference standings have remained in flux for much of the season. Sure, the Revolution haven’t exactly performed like contenders in recent weeks. But it’s far too early to start making funeral arrangements.
“There’s a lot of games left to play, so you just have to stay positive,” Nguyen told the media on Friday. “You just have to keep pushing through and know that you just have to keep fighting.”