The Black-and-Red host the second place New England Revolution today at 5 pm Eastern, the visitors trail the first place home team by four points. So a result in today’s game won’t put them in first, but it would definitely close the gap. For United, it’s a chance to get back on the right track after suffering back-to-back MLS losses for the first time this season. A result over New England would help them gain more separation from the pack in the impending playoff race.
New England hasn’t been in it’s best form since the last time these two teams met in May, they’ve went through a six game drought in which they couldn’t get a win. Although, they did win their last game off a brilliant volley from Diego Fagundez in a 2-0 win over the Fire.
The weary home team has been able to get considerable rest for much of their starters in a recent US Open cup match, using their depth and youngsters to get a 3-1 victory in the first round of the tournament over the USL Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
The last time these teams met, it was chippy and physical to say the least. One of the biggest keys to this game may be which team is able to keep their composure. Revs striker Charlie Davies sees this tilt as “the biggest game of our season” and he has a point. If the Revs can’t get the result, the last thing they want to do is fall behind seven points behind the Conference leader.
D.C. definitely hopes to reverse the opening half of play from the last meeting, with Fabian Espindola playing things will certainly be a bit different in the attacking third. He’s someone every team has to account for. Olsen’s lineup should be telling, but with rest to most of the roster in the Open Cup match. This should be a big game for the home team as well, they haven’t been in top form and are still at the top of the table. If they are able to get on track, putting a couple of wins together would really put pressure on New England.
There are things both teams did well in the first match and things they did not so well, it will definitely be interesting to see what changes are made tactically, if any. The battle in midfield will be pivotal with Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury against Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe. The team that is able to seize the tempo and dictate how the game will be played should be the victor. Things are very different this go round for both sides, it should be an exciting match, definitely worth being televised nationally.
Keys to a D.C. Result
- Defend. There’s a ton of firepower at New England’s disposal in Davies, Agudelo, Nguyen, Bunbury, Rowe, Fagundez. The home side can’t afford to give any of these players extra time on the ball
- Sense of Urgency. The Black-and-Red have had an issue this season not playing a full 90 minutes with a consistent intensity, they’ve yet to put together back-to-back halves at their top form
- Dictate Terms. They can’t afford to let the Revolution do what they did in their first meeting (in 1st half), which was keep possession and open up the United backline
- Don’t put it all on Bill. While it’s great to have the best keeper in the league, like a great pitcher, they both need run support. Get up early and make it easier on the outstanding young net minder
- Make Runs. Fabi Espindola is an outstanding playmaker, his teammates must do a better job of making runs at and behind the backline of the Revs to put pressure on that end of the field. Good things happen from runs deep in the attacking third