The New England Revolution are ready to run out in beautiful 60-plus degree weather Saturday night against a familiar enemy, the Houston Dynamo. The Revs are coming off a comprehensive 4-1 demolition of the Whitecaps while Houston just drew 0-0 with Portland at the brand-new BBVA Compass Stadium.
Injuries: The report is short and relatively simple this weekend. Everyone who is injured is listed as "out." Zak Boggs, Florian Lechner, Sainey Nyassi, Clyde Simms, and Jeremiah White will all be watching from the bench. The absence of Simms is particularly worrying given the level of calm and steel he has added to the midfield this season.
Interesting Storyline: The New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo have a fractious relationship after meeting in the MLS Cup Final two years in a row in 2006 and 2007. The Dynamo won both encounters, but it is the Revolution who have the upper hand in the regular season series, posting a 6-2-4 record, 2-1-3 at home. These clashes are never easy for either side; last season, Matt Reis was shown a post-match red card after getting into a tussle with Adam Moffat.
2011 Head-to-Head: Houston took the series last season, winning the first encounter in April and then fighting to a 1-1 draw later in the year. Former Dynamo man Ryan Cochrane scored the goal for the Revs.
Keys to the Game: Houston plays a direct and physical brand of soccer, using their big bodies to outmuscle and outwork their opponents. New England has to be ready for that. More importantly, though, New England has arguably the superior technical skill in midfield across the board, and they should be able to pass around and through the Dynamo. If the Revs can remember that they are the home team and put in a performance similar to the one last weekend, they should do just fine.
Defensively, the key is shutting down Brad Davis. The "left-footed Beckham" is the creative engine behind the Dynamo machine, and his service from the flank or from the middle is outstanding. With big targets like Will Bruin and Brian Ching marauding and mauling in the box, A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy will have to be at their level best to cope with the physicality and keep Davis's deliveries away from other orange shirts.
The lineup should remain mostly unchanged from last week. Simms' absence skews the formula, but it seems likely that a midfield of Lee Nguyen, Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, and either Ryan Guy, Kelyn Rowe, or Fernando Cardenas will start the match.
Broadcast Information: TV: 7:30 PM EST, CSN; RADIO: 7:30 PM EST, 98.5 The Sports Hub