Scouting report: New England
Fresh off a comprehensive 3-1 road win in Chicago, Philadelphia returns home for a third go-round with the New England Revolution.
Jay Heaps' squad endured a miserable Summer, experiencing a winless streak of 10 games that stretched from July 8 to Sept. 15. They've gone 1-2-2 in the month of September, a month that began with a 0-0 draw against the Union at Gillette Stadium. The Revs' most recent result was a 2-0 road loss against Houston.
Heaps' club is now 7-16-8 with 29 points this season.
The Union have not lost to New England since joining Major League Soccer. Philadelphia is 3-0-3 all time against the Revolution with a 1-0-1 mark in 2012.
Leading goal scorers Saer Sene and Lee Nguyen are both out for the rest of the season. Sene underwent surgery for an ACL tear, while Nguyen went under the knife for a shoulder issue. The pair contributed 16 goals and 5 assists this season.
Throw in injured midfielder-defender Chris Tierney's two goals and four assists, and Heaps is without the services of three guys who contributed 18 total goals and nine assists in 2012.
It'll be "offense by committee" for the Revolution on Saturday. Honduras international Jerry Bengston has shown positive moments since his midseason acquisition. Heaps decided to pair Dimitry Imbongo with Bengston in a 4-4-2 at Houston last week. The Revs also have the forward services of rookie Kelyn Rowe, Ryan Guy, Blake Brettschneider, Fernando Cardenas, and Diego Fagundez.
Union fans should see Juan Toja in a Revolution uniform for the first time on Saturday. The former FC Dallas man, an MLS All-Star, was picked up last month, but did not feature in the scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium. The Colombian adds depth to a creative midfield that includes playmaker Benny Feilhaber the previously mentioned Nguyen.
Starting defensive midfielder Clyde Simms played just 45 minutes against Houston. He came off after aggravating a calf injury and is now listed as doubtful on the MLS injury report. The status of starting center back Stephen McCarthy is up in the air as well. McCarthy s dealing with concussive-like symptoms.
That leaves a few gaps in a defense that should include fullbacks Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes, and central defender A.J. Soares. Florian Lechner is a fullback option, but he's injured as well. Heaps is likely to pair Barnes with Soares in central defense, and figure out the fullback situation from there. Alston, typically a right back, has played on the left recently.
There's also a bit of a shuffle in the New England net. Backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth has started the last two games over veteran Matt Reis. Heaps has decided to give some of his backups minutes in September and October, following his team's elimination from the playoffs.
New England is a woeful road team, with a 1-12-2 record away from Gillette Stadium. The Revs' lone road win came way back on March 31 – a stunning 3-1 win against Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center. The Union are 1-0-2 against New England at PPL Park, but 2-0-1 at Gillette Stadium. This season's 2-1 win at PPL Park was Philadelphia's first non-draw against the Revolution in Chester.
In six total games, the Union have outscored the Revolution 12 to 7. Last year's match at PPL Park played out to a wild 4-4 draw.
New England scored just four goals in five September games.
Contact Kevin Kinkead at email@example.com. Follow Kevin on Twitter @PhilUnionKevinK