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Preview: Colorado @ New England

Posted on 06 May 2011 by Matty Jollie

After a dreadful trip out to Carson, CA that resulted in a 3-0 defeat to Chivas USA, the New England Revolution (2-3-3, 9pts) return home to Gillette Stadium on Saturday night to face the defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids (4-3-1, 13pts). New England finds themselves amidst an incredibly tumultuous stretch of play, going 2-3-0 in their last five matches in all competitions. It’s a stretch that has had it all: wins, losses, new player acquisitions, the addition of a jersey sponsor, and yet another trip out to the West Coast. If the Revolution are to return to winning ways in the league, coming home to Foxboro is definitely a good start as they enter the third month of the season. Colorado has had an inconsistent start to the season, producing good victories, and some rough losses, but have found better form as of late, and are coming off a come-from-behind victory over Houston Dynamo at mid-week. Can New England overcome the injury bug and produce a result at home against the champs? Let’s see how they match up:


GOALKEEPERS – New England looks like it will have Matt Reis available for the match after overcoming a little discomfort in his strained shoulder, giving the Revs a huge boost at the back. It’s been evident that New England does in fact lose a little organization and cohesion without their #1 keeper, and just his presence at the back increases the level of play at the back. For Colorado, there may not be a keeper playing better than Matt Pickens at the moment. Pickens made several key saves in preserving the Rapids 2-1 victory on Wednesday night, and has come up big for the Rocky Mountain club all season long. ADVANTAGE: COLORADO. Pickens is arguably the best up and coming keeper in the league, and Matt Reis’s shoulder still causes concern.

DEFENDERS – It’s been a difficult go for New England at the back recently, surrendering 7 goals in their last 3 matches in all competitions, and it can be attributed to a few factors, most glaringly, the massive injury bug that has plagued the defense all season.  Didier Domi was added to the injury report this week and will not play, Franco Coria is listed as questionable and most likely will take one more week to heal, which leaves the Revs with a hole at left back (Ryan Cochrane should fill in for Coria at CB) and it will be either Chris Tierney or Darrius Barnes sliding into Domi’s place at LB. The addition of Reis helps the Revs defensively, but a patchwork back four will have to play extremely well against the talented Rapids attack. Colorado has more than enough talent in their back line, with veterans like Drew Moor, Kosuke Kimura, and Tyrone Marshall, and have recently found a good run of form as of late. Colorado has yet to concede multiple goals in their last four matches and with Pickens’ great play in net, look for Colorado to stifle the paltry Revs attack. ADVANTAGE: COLORADO. Until New England gets healthy, they’re going to have to find ways to put together a solid defensive effort, and with Colorado playing well, it’s difficult to see New England posting a clean sheet.

MIDFIELDERS – Quite possibly the best matchup on the field Saturday night will be found in the center of the park. New England and Colorado both boast great midfield leadership, and it is more than likely the match will be won and lost in central midfield. For New England, it may be the first time you see the three-headed monster of Ousmane Dabo, Shalrie Joseph, and Benny Feilhaber, a trio that has excited Revs’ fans since the acquisition of Feilhaber two weeks ago. There will be no lack of talent in that group, so one has to wonder how well they can mesh together and create chemistry. The Revolution will likely again be without Marko Perovic, who continues to battle a knee strain, which will most likely keep Zak Boggs in the starting eleven for Steve Nicol.  Colorado has a great midfield of its own, with World Cup veteran Pablo Mastroeni, and former Revolution standout Jeff Larentowicz.  The pair have patrolled the Rapids midfield well all season, and are joined by talented wingers as well in Jamie Smith and Wells Thomspon (another former Revs player). Thompson has thrived in the Colorado system, given more freedom to flow and create, and teammate Jamie Smith found the back of the net on Wednesday night and continues to improve his form with each match. ADVANTAGE: EVEN. Dead Even. There’s talent all over the midfield for both sides, and each club has its own strength. New England is slightly better in the midfield at full strength, while Colorado will have the better wing play and service.

FORWARDS – Since the acquisition of Danish League star Rajko Lekic, New England has had little question as to who their top choice striker is. Lekic hasn’t produced multiple goals, but most of that can fall upon the lack of service given to him from his teammates. Lekic is a target striker, which means he needs proper service to thrive, and he is still struggling to find the right chemistry with his new teammates. Look for Lekic to be joined by Zack Schilawski, who has seen a drop in form lately, but given the Revs’ lack of depth at the forward position, it’s difficult to see Steve Nicol leave him out of the lineup.  Colorado boasts a wealth of talent up top, however, will be without USA international Conor Casey, who will most likely need one more week to recover from his left hamstring strain. The striker responsibilities have fallen upon MLS veteran Omar Cummings, who has always played well against New England, however, Cummings picked up a knock on Wednesday night and had to be subbed off. Without Cummings, it will be a combination of Caleb Folan (Folan came on for Cummings at halftime on Wednesday) Quincy Amrikwa or Andre Akpan, who have each done a decent job of filling in. For all of the talent up top, Colorado hasn’t scored many goals as of late, and if that trend continues, New England will have a chance to steal a result. ADVANTAGE: EVEN. Believe it or not, neither team is lighting up the scoreboard. Colorado may have more talent and depth, but they’ve only scored 3 goals in their last 5 league matches, and if there is one thing New England has done this season, it’s finding ways to score goals in any way possible.

PREDICTION – At first glance, you would think Colorado would handle New England and come away with three points. However, with two matches in four days coupled with a cross country trip, Colorado just may be ripe enough for the Revs’ to pick.  Neither side is scoring goals at an alarming rate, and the midfield battle is an absolute push. It’s going to be exciting, incredibly physical, and a stalemate. Look for both sides to come away with a point. SCORE: NEW ENGAND 1 – COLORADO 1.



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Revs to Face Dynamo, Honor Ralston

Posted on 12 August 2010 by sstoehrst

A familiar face returns to Gillette Stadium on Saturday as Steve Ralston will be honored pre-kickoff for his service as a Revolution player.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, he’ll be wearing the colors of the opposing side. Ralston was recently hired as the Houston Dynamo’s assistant coach, replacing long-time second-in-command John Spencer. “Rally” is the MLS all-time leader in assists (135), starts (372) and minutes played (143), having joined the Revolution in 2002 after six seasons with the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny.

The sentimentality won’t last past the opening kickoff. Over the last decade or so the Revolution and the Dynamo have cultivated a healthy rivalry, including two meetings in the MLS Cup Final (Houston won both, in ’06 and ’07) and a SuperLiga final in 2008 (the Revolution won on penalties).

Entering Saturday’s contest, New England is riding a streak of fine form, posting a 5-0-2 record and a +6 goal differential in their last seven matches. The key to their success has been defense; despite only scoring eight goals in that span they’ve conceded just two, and the chemistry between Darrius Barnes, Cory Gibbs and Emmanuel Osei has served to frustrate opponents for the last month and a half.

Houston, on the other hand, is suffering through a slump. They’ve gone just 2-4-4 and their last ten fixtures and remain winless in all nine of their previous league games. Last week’s performance against Seattle was deplorable and even coach Dominic Kinnear was at a loss to find any positives in the contest other than the inspired play of young goalkeeper Tally Hall.

Steve Nicol has already announced that he plans to start Serbian newcomer Ilija Stolica for the first time on Saturday, and Marko Perovic is reportedly fit again after missing last week due to a calf strain. It will be interesting to see how the duo interact, with Stolica likely tasked as the target man up front, holding the ball and bringing others into the play. Perovic will be his most common partner in this scheme, making runs off the ball and looking for the space to continue his blistering offensive form.

Saturday’s match is a statement game for the Revs. Despite their recent woes Houston is still a team with quality all over the pitch, and New England went a long stretch earlier this season without showing any sort of resilience in the face of superior opposition. Expect this to be a tightly-contested affair that will indicate the high-water mark of the Revs’ resurgence; either they’ll get a result and continue to force their way into the playoff picture, or they will crumble, and the Revolution faithful can probably start counting down the days until next season.

Lineup Forecast


Reis; Osei, Barnes, Gibbs, Sinovic; Nyassi, Joseph, Phelan, Tierney; Perovic; Stolica

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