Breaking down New England
After a loss to Dallas, New England enters Saturday's match looking to regain the winning form that saw them earn consecutive victories against Portland and Los Angeles. Here are a few things to look out for from the Revolution over the weekend.
New England loves to use the wings and have a trio of players who can break down a defense out wide. The most dangerous thus far has proven to be Kelyn Rowe, who will literally try anything once. Anywhere inside 40 yards, the rookie is extremely quick to pull the trigger and whoever ends up in net for United will have to be up to the challenge. Chris Tierney has usually been a thorn in D.C.'s side and the left back's overlapping runs have produced pretty good service from his consistently dangerous left foot this season.
Shalrie Joseph's absence through suspension is key because there is no other player on New England's roster that can spark the Revs offense like the Grenadian does. Without him expect even more direct service to New England's front line, where Saer Sene provides a tempting - but at times inconsistent - target. D.C. has matched up well against target forwards of late and must look to continue that trend.
In the club's two victories, New England has wasted little time in pushing forward. The Revolution scored in the opening quarter-hour against both Portland and Los Angeles, so D.C.'s back four will need to be sharp from the opening whistle.
Speed kills, and it certainly hurts the Revolution. Last week against Dallas, speedster Fabian Castillo absolutely torched a New England defense that was missing Kevin Alston. The Maryland native has been upgraded to probable with hamstring tightness, but if he's not at full strength any one of United's wingers could have a big afternoon.
In the middle, A.J. Soares is the real deal. The second-year center back is playing with great confidence while dominating aerially and making big tackles in critical one-on-one battles. If Maicon Santos can put up a fight and occupy Soares long enough to prevent the California product from making plays elsewhere, the Brazilian will have done his part in helping D.C. win.
Matt Reis is great with his feet and as a result tries to play the ball out of really tight spaces. Should he try this on Saturday, United might create a dangerous turnover or two if the Black-and-Red apply pressure in the right places along New England's back line.