Revolution vs. SKC: Know Thy Enemy, Third Meeting

July 21, 2012; New England Revolution forward Saer Sene (39) and Sporting KC midfielder/forward Graham Zusi (8) fight for the ball during the second half of the soccer match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The match ended in a 0-0 tie. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

The New England Revolution, after facing them twice already this season in the nation's Heartland, are set to welcome Sporting Kansas City to Gillette stadium on Saturday night. The Revolution are coming off of a last-gasp 2-1 loss to the Union in Philadelphia, while Kansas City last played a friendly against Stoke City and earned a 1-1 draw.

There are plenty of things for the Revolution to worry about as they prepare to face off against one of the league's top teams, both offensively and defensively, but the question on everybody's mind is this: "what will this team do without Shalrie Joseph?" This will be far from the first match the Revs have ever played without Joseph, but it will be the first time since 2003 that they will play without him even being listed on the roster. This trade is bound to have some sort of effect on the play of the Revolution this weekend.

Actually, the trade paints a bleak picture of the Revs' chances going forward. This season, without Shalrie Joseph in the starting lineup, the Revolution are 1-4-1. When he doesn't make an appearance at all they are 0-3-1. Sporting will be licking its chops as it looks at a team that hasn't looked nearly as composed and dangerous without its captain on the field. The likes of Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen, and Saer Sene will need to step up big time to fill the void.

Today's Q&A is with Ben Gartland of The Daily Wiz, SB Nation's Sporting Kansas City blog. You can read the last exchange we had with Ben to get an even clearer idea of what the Revs are up against.

TBM: It's only been about two weeks since the last meeting between New England and Kansas City. I know it hasn't been too long, but tell us what's changed?

BG: Other than Aurelien Collin being injured, not much has changed. Our defense is still as solid as ever and we can't finish to save our lives. We're not likely to allow any goals but we're still not likely to score any either.

TBM: SKC has shown an alarming trend lately of dropping points in winnable matches, especially at home. Are reports of KC's demise greatly exaggerated or is it time for fans in the Heartland to panic?

BG: I would say a little of both. For one, we dropped a winnable game against Columbus at home but that could've been arrested to two of our starting defenseman being out with injury. When we've had our full back line (Which we won't on Saturday because Collin will be out) we give ourselves the opportunity to at least gain a point from a draw.

On the other hand, and I alluded to this in my first response, we still can't finish at all and the transfer window is closed. Using the most recent Columbus match as an example, Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury missed a collective total of what seemed like a gazillion goal opportunities. We've had atrocious finishing stats all year, and if we can't score we can't win. There is a little bit of panic that can and should be taking place here.

TBM: Aurelien Collin is a guy who has been a rock in the SKC defense, but he got hurt in the All-Star game. Will he be back in time to face the Revs? If so, how much of a relief is it to see him return? If not, how will SKC cope with his absence?

BG: As I said above, Collin is most likely not going to be back He may end up playing because he's done that before but I wouldn't count on it.

During the transfer season we were able to pick up a couple of new defenders, Neven Markovic and Oriol Rosell. Now that we have depth on the back line, it won't be as bad without Collin as it would have been two months ago.

TBM: By now you've heard that Shalrie Joseph was traded this week. What does that do to your impression of the Revs as a team and how they stack up against SKC?

BG: Joseph was a leader in the Revs locker room. That I believe will be the biggest difference with him gone. As father time has caught up to him, he has looked slower and less agile through the years. In a physical sense I don't believe much will change from when SKC and New England played, but I do believe they lost a great motivator. That may come into play.

TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.

BG: Nielsen
Myers, Markovic, Besler, Sinovic
Thomas, Zusi, Cesar
Kamara, Bunbury, Sapong


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