Tonight's match could be billed as a "Clash of the Titans" as much as it is a "Battle of the Unbeaten." The New England Revolution enter play as the first-place team in the Eastern Conference; Real Salt Lake comes to town as the class of the league, undefeated with a game in hand on their Western competitors, and MLS's first representative in the CONCACAF Champions' League Final since the format changed a few years ago. On paper, it looks like a match for the ages.
Then again, anyone paying attention knows there's a gulf in class between these two clubs that will be considerably difficult for the Revs to make up. Real Salt Lake has only played in two matches compared to New England's four, but they also blew out the Los Angeles Galaxy 4-1, whereas the Revolution could only manage a 1-1 draw. The Revs will have to be at their very best to pull off a victory tonight.
Let's hope they are, if only to make up for the abysmal performances the Red Sox are putting in lately.
Some notes on tonight's match:
- Saturday’s match will be the 13th all-time meeting between the two clubs since Real Salt Lake entered the league as an expansion team in 2005.
- New England and RSL met twice during the 2010 season, with RSL claiming both victories and outscoring the Revolution, 7-1 … in the teams’ first meeting on July 2, 2010, the Revs suffered their worst loss of the season, 5-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium … in the rematch on Oct. 2, 2010, the Revolution came close to avenging the loss, falling short in a 2-1 defeat at Gillette Stadium.
- The Revs are 2-5-2 in their last nine meetings with Real Salt Lake after going undefeated (2-0-1) in the teams’ first three games.
- Nine of the Revolution’s 15 goals against Real Salt Lake have come in the second half, 60 percent of the club’s total scoring output against RSL.
- New England and Real Salt Lake have never met in any MLS Cup playoff or U.S. Open Cup competitions.
- In the all-time series, RSL has tallied 23 goals against the Revolution, while New England has found the net 15 times in meetings between the two.
The injury report hasn't changed from yesterday. Marko Perovic, Kevin Alston, Ryan Cochrane, Franco Coria and Stephen McCarthy are all listed as probable with various ailments. Andrew Sousa is questionable, while Ousmane Dabo remains doubtful to make his MLS debut. Matt Reis is out with an adductor strain, and A.J. Soares will be absent while serving a suspension for his red card against Vancouver.
Tonight's key is going to be getting out to a quick start and controlling the turf at the Razor. Real Salt Lake plays the brand of soccer that Stevie Nicol tries to tell the Revs to play: possession-oriented, dominated by one or two-touch passing. If the Revolution can disrupt their rhythm and impose their own (something most teams look to do at home) they have a serious chance of getting a result. The Royals may be battling some fatigue after having to travel straight to Foxboro from Costa Rica, but then again, the Revs had to get back to the East Coast from Vancouver.
So, just to review, Shalrie Joseph and company need to contain Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman. No pressure, guys.
Oh, and I'll be running this thread from the press box at Gillette today. Moving up in the world! Lineups (as they come) and your thoughts after the jump.
BIG NEWS. Real Salt Lake has elected to rest something in the neighborhood of 9 starters. This makes things very interesting for the Revs right now.
Revolution: Shuttleworth; Alston, Coria, Cochrane, Domi; Phelan, McCarthy, Joseph; Perovic, Schilawski, Mansally
Bench: Murray, Barnes, Boggs, Dube, Nyassi, Stolica, Tierney
Real Salt Lake: Reynish; Russell, McKenzie, Beltran, Schuler; Grabavoy, Warner, Alexandre, Johnson; Alvarez, Paulo Araujo Junior
Bench: Rimando, Beckerman, Borchers, Espindola, Gil, Morales, Williams