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Preview: Revs at San Jose Earthquakes

Posted on 20 May 2011 by Hank Alexandre

Even though the New England Revolution are squaring off against the San Jose Earthquakes for the first time this season, this is already the Revs’ fourth trip to the west coast.  So far the boys in blues have held their own against the left coast teams, managing a draw against both the Galaxy and the Whitecaps, before finally losing on their last trip against Chivas USA, 3-0.  Since that loss however, the Revs have managed 2 clean sheets and 4 points out of their last possible 6.  San Jose, having struggled for most of the season, finally put together a win against Columbus last weekend, breaking a 6 game winless streak.  With both teams desperately looking to find some semblance of a rhythm heading into this weekends match, it will more than likely be a slugfest when they take to the field.  Here’s how the two match up.

GOALKEEPERS: Two veteran netminders will be between the posts on Saturday night, with over 20 years of MLS experience between them.  San Jose has John Busch, who has played every minute of every game for the Quakes this season.  Busch is not the most physical goal keeper, but he is always well positioned and keeps his back line very well organized.  Despite the fact that San Jose has only kept two clean sheets this season, Busch has only let in a respectable 11 goals to date.  New England’s Matt Reis also has two shutouts to his credit, but in just 7 starts this season, and has only allowed 6 goals.  ADVANTAGE: New England – Despite the lack of offense in the Revolutions last two opponents, Reis’s current form is the chief reason they kept their opponents scoreless.

DEFENDERS: The Revs back line has seen some changes from game to game this season, but the depth has been solid.  Steve Nicol seems to have settled on a central defense with rookie AJ Soares partnering with veteran Ryan Cochrane.  On the right side, Kevin Alston has consistently improved over the last month, while on the left, without the services of Didier Domi, Nicol will more than likely start Darrius Barnes who played fairly well against Shea Salinas of Vancouver last weekend.  San Jose, who will be without Tim Ward (injury) and Brandon McDonald (red card), will have to come up with a brand new formation for the second week in a row.  Look for Jason Hernandez to pair up with Ike Opara in the midfield, and Convey and Leitch to reprise their roles at left and right back. ADVANTAGE: New England – Consistency and depth in the back give the Revs an edge.

MIDFIELDERS: Depending on you interpret the Revolution’s formation, you may see a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1. Regardless, Steve Nicol’s new central pairing of Feilhaber and Joseph has shown promise over the last 4 games, however with little to show for it.  The Revolution will also once again be without Ousmane Dabo and Marko Perovic, both quality players this team desparately needs.  Instead the Revs will once again rely on Chris Tierney on the left wing, and more than likely 2nd year man Zak Boggs on the the right. Rookie Stephen McCarthy will likely back up Shalrie and Benny in the middle.  The Quakes, however, have attacking power in the midfield with Ryan Johnson, and creative aptitude in Joey Gjertsen.  Without Simon Dawkins however, San Jose has struggled to maintain possession.  ADVANTAGE: Push – Shalrie and Benny are good, but they need to find a way to contribute to the attack.

FORWARDS: By far the Revs’ greatest weakness is in the forward line.  Rajko Lekic has yet to establish himself as the teams solution for the lack of goal scoring.  However, the Revs bench has had little to offer as well.  With Zack Schilawski and Kheli Dube as the only other options for Steve Nicol, Lekic will likely be the lone striker for the Revs.   San Jose will have the services of Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski – need I say more? ADVANTAGE: San Jose.  New England just don’t have the creative element in the final third.

PREDICTION: Despite the offensive mismatch, New England has a strong core which will be able to control the flow of play for the majority of the game.  If the Revs can get an early goal, they will manage the game to a 1-0 win.

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