Scouting Report: New England Revolution
Sometimes a short-turnaround is the best way to put a difficult defeat in the rear view mirror.
The Union will look to forget Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Columbus, and focus on Saturday's trip to New England.
Jay Heaps' new-look Revolution squad, which impressed earlier this season, is struggling and stumbling through the dog days of Summer. His team is winless in nine straight games, failing to find a victory since the very first week of July. The Revs are sitting on just 24 points, with a 6-14-6 record. Wednesday's midweek match in Foxborough saw New England squander a three goal lead in a 3-3 draw with Chivas USA.
Philadelphia is 3-0-2 all time against New England, which is statistically the best win/loss percentage for the Union against a specific MLS team. John Hackworth's side benefited from a Jack McInerney stoppage time goal en route to a 2-1 victory against the Revs back on July 29th.
The Union will get their first taste of striker Jerry Bengston this weekend. The Honduras international was a mid-season signing, and he's scored a pair of goals in just six total games. He's six foot one and has a nice skill set, able to play with the ball on the ground, hold the ball in wide areas, and win aerial battles as well.
Bengston is a nice complement to leading goal scorer Saer Sene, who picked up a brace on Wednesday. Sene now has 11 goals on the season, which is a phenomenal accomplishment for a guy playing his first season in MLS. Union fans should now be familiar with his left foot – it was that swerving rocket shot that got past Zac MacMath in the July matchup at PPL Park.
New England made a quality signing last week, adding former MLS all-star Juan Toja to the roster. However, the Colombia man is highly unlikely to feature on Saturday due to paperwork and fitness issues.
Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen will try to create chances behind Sene and Bengston. Nguyen is the second leading goal scorer on the team with 5 tallies this year. Feilhaber's numbers don't stand out, but the American international is having a decent season. He just needs the guys around him to finish their chances.
It's likely that Ryan Guy or Kelyn Rowe fills another spot in the midfield. Diego Fagundez and Fernando Cardenas both saw action off the bench in the midweek draw.
With the departure of talismanic captain Shalrie Joseph, the defensive midfield position solely belongs to Clyde Simms. The veteran will sit in front of the Revs backline and look to control the tempo of the game.
Numbers wise, the Revs defense is certainly not the worst in the league. But the backline of Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, and Kevin Alston isn't playing the best soccer right now. There's still a lot of upside at the center back positions, however, as Soares and McCarthy are both just sophomores in the league.
At 1.54, Matt Reis doesn't have one of the best goals-against percentages in the league. The veteran isn't the player that he used to be, but he's still a former all-star and a guy who's capable of making big plays when called upon.
The New England backline has hardly changed throughout the season, but Darrius Barnes is likely the first man off the bench if one of the four starters can't go. Florian Lechner is another option at either fullback spot.
Philadelphia has not lost in two games at Gillette Stadium. Last year's result in Foxborough was a comprehensive 3-0 win that saw the Union enter the all-star break at the top of the Eastern Conference table. Both Carlos Valdes and Sheanon Williams scored their first MLS goals in that game.
Jay Heaps' has hardly strayed from the 4-4-2 this season. It's a pretty straight forward shape that counts on the playmaking flank ability of Nguyen and the threat of Sene up top. New England can play a 4-5-1 to fit Feilhaber, Nguyen, and Guy or Guy on the field at the same time, but that means either Bengston or Sene starts on the bench.
New England's defense conceded three home goals to Chivas USA. The Revs have now given up 9 goals in their last three games. Chivas had not scored more than two goals in a game prior to Wednesday's draw.