preview: d.c. united at new england revolution

Preview: D.C. United at New England Revolution

D.C. United travels north to face the New England Revolution for the fourth time this season (7:30 p.m. ET / MLS LIVE). So far, the Black-and-Red has gone 1-1-1 against the Revolution, including a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium and a 3-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Tonight, D.C. will look to play spoiler as New England vies for an Eastern Conference playoff spot—currently, the Revs are just two points out of fifth place.

New England missed its chance to overtake Chicago last weekend, falling to the Fire 3-2 in dramatic fashion. After goals from Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene handed the Revolution a 2-1 halftime lead, Chicago hit back through Mike Magee and Alex, who fired home the winner in the game’s closing stages. The loss dropped New England to 10-11-7 overall and 4-5-1 in its last ten games. Still, the Revs haven’t slowed their offensive output, as young talents Diego Fagundez and Rowe have combined for 17 goals and 11 assists on the season. Rowe, in particular, has made a name for himself with several long-range strikes in recent weeks.

After a slow start, United’s offense is also clicking into gear. Last weekend’s 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy saw the Black-and-Red equalize twice through Chris Pontius and Kyle Porter, whose header in the 84th leveled the game just moments after Michael Stephens had seemingly struck the winner. It was also Pontius’ first League start in over two months following a groin injury. D.C. didn’t fare as well in its most recent encounter with the Revolution, though, losing 2-1 on July 27 at RFK Stadium. Despite an early strike from Luis Silva, goals from Dimitry Imbongo and Fagundez led the Revs to a vital road win. All-time, United is 28-23-8 against New England in League play, and the Black-and-Red will look to improve that mark as it readies for Oct. 1’s U.S. Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake.

With a deeper roster at his disposal, Head Coach Ben Olsen is focused on preparing for the cup final—the club’s biggest game of the season. After drawing against the Galaxy, Olsen was pleased with the team’s performance.

“We talked about it all week," said Olsen. "This was a good test for our group for Salt Lake, and we put on a good performance as a team to get some belief.”

Olsen added that he has yet to finalize his starting eleven for the final. Meanwhile, Pontius, one of the obvious candidates for a starting role in midfield, expressed his confidence about returning from injury.

“It something, as a player coming back off injury, it’s easier to get into a game once you score, so I felt a bit more confident after that," Pontius explained. "Just in this game, my fitness is lacking. I need to keep working on that. I could have gone more tonight—there were points where I got out of breath, but I would just sit in for a couple minutes and re-gain it. I’m on track. I should be ready to go by that Open Cup final.”

United returns to RFK Stadium on Oct. 4 to face Chicago for the third time this season—one of three remaining home games. Buy your tickets here.