PREVIEW: Revs @ Crew

Posted on 13 August 2011 by Matty Jollie

Revs Face Crew to Continue Playoff Push

The New England Revolution (4-10-9, 21pts) head back out on the road this weekend, this time to the Midwest to take on the streaking (and first place) Columbus Crew (9-7-7, 34pts).  New England is coming off a disappointing, albeit entertaining home loss to Chivas USA last Saturday, while Columbus was beaten by defending champion Colorado.  With the Revolution 8 points back from a playoff spot, every match provides an essential opportunity to climb back into race for the post-season, and it continues with Saturday’s match at Crew Stadium.

GOALKEEPER: It’s the veteran Matt Reis once again for New England, coming off a poor 3 goal performance on Saturday. Reis has been solid, but his season has been marred by a few mistakes in bad spots.  One of the goals for Chivas USA came about when Reis was too late off his line on a cross, leaving an empty net and providing an easy target.  If Reis can remain solid, and avoid the big mistake, New England are always competitive.  In Columbus, there’s no mistaking, the job belongs to Will Hesmer. Strong in the air, a physical presence, the Crew net-minder has been solid all season long and continues to b instrumental in the club’s climb to the top of the Eastern Conference table. ADVANTAGE: Columbus. Hesmer has quickly supplanted himself as one of the best in MLS.

DEFENDERS: New England will be bolstered by the return of AJ Soares on Saturday asfter missing the previous match due to a red card suspension.  Soares was sorely missed against Chivas USA, and will regain his spot in the center of the Revs defense, but who joins him remains to be seen. Kevin Alston continues to fight off a turf-toe injury, Ryan Cochrane has been shaky at best, and left-back has been a revolving door all season. If the Revs are going to have a chance, they need to shore up the holes at the back, and continue to push forward.  Columbus is anchored by one man: Chad Marshall. The tall, strong center back has found a niche in Columbus, and his solid play has also earned him a look with the USMNT.  Marshall has been joined by youngsters Julius James and Sebastian Miranda, who have given a youthful edge to the side throughout the season, fighting their way off the bench and into the starting 11.  ADVANTAGE: Columbus. The Revs continue to struggle to get healthy, although the addition of Soares will help.

MIDFIELDERS: Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber remain the foundation of the Revs midfield, however the season has yet to offer up consistent partners for them.  Sainey Nyassi has played well at times and at others his play is maddening, rookie Stephen McCarthy has played well in spots, showing his physicality, and there’s always the defensive-minded Pat Phelan to contend for a spot also.  Until New England can find the quality of play from the wings they are looking for, they’ll continue to have difficulty maintaining possession.   Columbus boasts a talented and speedy midfield, built around the incredibly quick (and recent USMNT goal-scorer) Robbie Rogers. Rogers’ pace always finds a way to open up the midfield of opposing teams, and when you add the talents of Emmanuel Ekpo and veteran Eddie Gaven, you’ve got quite a talented and dynamic attack-minded midfield. ADVANTAGE: Push. Columbus doesn’t have anyone with the quality of a Feilhaber or Joseph, and with Gaven on the injury report, the midfield is an even battle.

FORWARDS: After playing nearly 60 minutes in his debut, recently signed DP Milton Caraglio will once again be the focal point up top for New England.  The Revs were dealt a blow when it was reported that Rajko Lekic would miss up to a month with a toe fracture, leaving Caraglio as the first option.  The Argentine showed good physical strength and instincts, but it remains to be seen how good his match fitness will be.  Columbus will most likely be without Jeff Cunningham, which has placed a lot of the burden on relative unknowns like Tommy Heinemann and Andres Mendoza.  The two have turned in average performances, putting more pressure on Rogers’ to create. ADVANTAGE: Push. The loss of Cunningham is big for Columbus, and the matchup of a Heinemann/Mendoza pairing and Caraglio really has no clear cut winner.

PREDICTION: It’s tough to tell with so many injuries on both sides. Columbus boasts one of the largest injury reports in the league at the moment, and it will all come down to who actually takes the pitch for the Crew.  New England sees AJ Soares return, which bolsters the defense, and Milton Caraglio enters his second match with another week of training under his belt, which can only help. The difference in the match is going to be Robbie Rogers.  If the USMNT midfielder can overcome fatigue from the mid-week match with Mexico and put his stamp on the game, Columbus will escape with three points. That being said, New England will continue their decent run of form, and escape Columbus with a hard-fought point.  SCORE: New England 1 – Columbus 1.

 

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