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Preview: D.C. United at New England Revolution

After facing non-conference foes in its last four matches, United looks for three points

MLS MATCHDAY 6

New England Revolution vs D.C. United

Saturday, April 14 - 4:00 PM ET
TV: CSN+

Ben Olsen knows Jay Heaps well.  The pair have squared off against eachother as players on both the collegiate and professional levels, and worn thesame shirt while representing the United States in international play.  Come Saturday, the duo will meet againalbeit in their relatively new roles as the two youngest managers in MajorLeague Soccer.

"They look like more of a soccer team thanyour traditional, smash-mouth New England team," Olsen said this weekwhile preparing to take on Heaps' New England side.  "That is a credit to Jay and what he's trying to buildthere."

What Heaps has built so far is a team that issurprising most MLS pundits to start the 2012 season.  After finishing last in the Eastern Conference a year ago,New England has racked up impressive victories against Portland and Los Angelesover the last month.  TheRevolution's run of fine form came to an end last week in a home defeat to FCDallas, a match in which New England suffered a pair of major setbacks.  In addition to the loss, Shalrie Josephpicked up a one-match ban for his reckless tackle on Dallas playmaker RicardoVillar and as a result will miss Saturday's encounter.  With Joseph out, much of New England's attack figures tocome from the club's talented wingers. Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe have each had outstanding starts to theirrespective campaigns, and the pair's offensive talents should provide for anentertaining match-up with United's explosive group of flank players.

"They've got two very good players.  They are good out wide but the field isvery compact," noted Danny Cruz, who has started D.C.'s last three matchesat outside midfield.  "It'sgoing to be a lot less football and a lot more fight."

Key to which team wins that fight will be amiddle-of-the-park showdown between ex-teammates Dwayne De Rosario and ClydeSimms.  After seven years with theBlack-and-Red Simms found a new home with the Revolution this offseason, andthe veteran holding midfielder is flourishing in his usual role.  He's been tabbed with the responsibilityof limiting De Rosario come Saturday, something Simms knows to be no smalltask.

“One of the things Dwayne does well,he’s already thinking about going on the attacking end when the other team hasthe ball,” Simms told Jeff Lemieux of Revolutionsoccer.net. “There are momentsin the game – and he knows when they are – to be able to cheat a little bitdefensively. His running off the ball is great and he makes runs in behind theforwards. So he’s a tough one. He’s one you have to pay attention to the entiregame.”

Because United have faced Western Conferencefoes in each of the club's last four matches, Saturday's contest will take oneven greater significance.  Withthe new unbalanced schedule in MLS, conference matches carry more weight thanthey have in years past.  A sixpoint swing - even this early in the season - could pay major dividends in whatwill be a tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

"It's huge," acknowledged defender RobbieRussell when asked about Saturday's match.  "Especially with the conference weighting of the games,it's really important for us to get points in our conference and this is achance for us to do that."

Saturday's contest is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. start at GilletteStadium.  The match will bebroadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Plus in the Washington area as John Harkes joins Dave Johnson onthe call.

INJURY NOTES: Defender Emiliano Dudar has been ruled out of Saturday's match with a hamstring strain suffered this week during training.  Both Josh Wolff and Bill Hamid are listed as probable and should be available for selection Saturday.

» ANALYSIS: Breaking down New England Revolution

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REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. MLS Career: 77 games; FC/gm: 24.7; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 23; pens: 22
SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Matthew Kreitzer; 4th: John McCloskey

INJURY REPORT:

  • NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: FW Zak Boggs (R ankle sprain); MF Sainey Nyassi (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Kevin Alston (L hamstring tightness); MF Benny Feilhaber (L peroneal strain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Matt Reis (L knee swelling); MF Clyde Simms (R calf tightness)
  • D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Ethan White (R knee surgery); MF Lance Rozeboom (L ACL tear); MF Kurt Morsink (L foot neurectomy); DF Emiliano Dudar (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: GK Bill Hamid (L ankle sprain / bone bruising)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: NE: Shalrie Joseph (through April 15)

WARNINGS:

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Maicon Santos

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (56 meetings): Revolution 23 wins (3 shootout), 72 goals ... United 25 wins (4 shootout), 80 goals ... Ties 8
AT FOXBOROUGH (28 meetings): Revolution 15 wins (2 shootout), 34 goals ... United 9 wins (4 shootout), 29 goals ... Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 5/26: D.C. United vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET; 9/15: D.C. United vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):

3/26: NE 2, DC 1 (Schilawski 8; Joseph 17 - Davies 90)
7/20: DC 0, NE 1 (McCarthy 73)

  • The Revolution currently own a five-game winning streak against their Eastern Conference rivals in league play. United haven't defeated New England since a 2-1 win Oct. 16, 2008 at RFK Stadium.
  • The Revs also won a U.S. Open Cup play-in match last year, a 3-2 win at RFK Stadium.
  • United last won in Foxborough on Aug. 5, 2007, a 3-0 victory. The Revolution are unbeaten in their last five home games vs. D.C., including wins in the last four.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. NE: P3 W0 L3 D0 ... Jay Heaps vs. DC: first game