This weekend, fans at Foxboro will get their first look at one of this year's expansion sides, the Portland Timbers. Portland is coming off of two straight league losses but also a 2-0 victory over Chivas USA in the Open Cup, while the Revs are sitting tied for second in the East with four points after an away draw with the Galaxy and a 2-1 victory over DC United.
This week's big news has been the Rajko Lekic transfer saga, but there's no indication that he'll be a Revolution player in time to face Portland. The Revs did make one signing, however: rookie defender Otto Loewy, who spent time with New England in Kennesaw this preseason. To keep space open for Lekic's imminent arrival, fullback Seth Sinovic was waived.
On the injury front, the last report has Franco Coria and Andrew Sousa as definite scratches for a hamstring strain and a quad strain, respectively. Ousmane Dabo will probably have to wait another week for his debut as he's still recovering from a quadriceps problem that has plagued him since training camp, and Marko Perovic is also doubtful after pulling up lame against LA. Worryingly, Matt Reis is questionable with an adductor strain, and although Kevin Alston and Didier Domi are both listed on the injury report, their status is "probable" and after going the distance against DC I see no reason why either of them would miss out.
Today's Q&A is with Geoff Reid of Stumptown Footy, SB Nation's Portland Timbers blog.
TBM: Two losses on the trot certainly isn't the way you probably hoped to start the season, but everyone knows it can be tough for an expansion team faced with an extended road trip to eke out results. Do you feel like the losses will have a negative effect on confidence going into the clash against New England?
GR: Prior to the US Open Cup qualifying match I would have said yes. Confidence is something that needs to be built up and it becomes more and more difficult tog et yourself out of a rut with each successive defeat. After coming away with a solid 2 - 0 victory over a Chivas USA side that was largely fielding its first team, however, as well as getting to, for the first time, enjoy playing in front of a home crowd, I'm feeling a bit better that our team is coming away with some elevated confidence.
Read the rest of his answers after the jump.
TBM: The Timbers have only managed one goal so far this campaign while conceding five. Which side of the game do you expect will click first for this team, attack or defense? Which do you feel is more critical to any possible success in this inaugural season?
GR: We are an attacking team, no doubt about it. Our head coach, John Spencer, has even said as much. The difficult part of it was getting that first legitimate goal. Kenny Cooper scored off a free kick, but there was no build up, no tactics, no free form movements. On Tuesday against Chivas USA it was obvious the same thing was happening to our team where players just weren't finding it in them to get int the right places and take shots that need to be taken. When our captain Jack Jewsbury buried that goal 30 yards out late in the second half it was almost like that mental wall broke down. Not 3 minutes later we scored for a second time.
I don't necessarily believe there is any way you can hold the value of attacking or defending over one or the other. Both are integral to a successful season. Real Salt Lake sort of embodies this right now and it's where the Portland Timbers need to get to if they want to reach the play-offs and beyond.
TBM: Give me an under-the-radar player New England should watch out for in this match.
GR: It depends on injury progress, but Sal Zizzo is one player who, if eligible to play (right shoulder injury) will certainly be giving you left back some serious problems.
I'd also like to highlight our goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. While he's third on our pecking order (both Adin Brown and Troy Perkins have injuries) the youngster has come up with some phenomenal saves against both Chivas USA and Toronto FC. He's definitely not going to be giving up any easy goals.
TBM: Who do you think Portland fears the most on the pitch for New England?
GR: With New England it seems to habitually always boil down to Shalrie Joseph. Contain him and you neutralize much of New England's midfield. I'm not sure if that's correct necessarily, but in my limited time watching New England it's what I've noticed.
TBM: Finally, let's get your projected starting XI for this match.
GR: My starting 11 is: Jake Gleeson; Steve Purdy, Kevin Goldthwaite, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace; Ryan Pore, Jack Jewsbury, Peter Lowry, Jeremy Hall; Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza