The New England Revolution travel down I-95 to take on an original enemy in D.C. United on Saturday night. The Revs will be looking to build on last week's victory over D.C. United and get another three points during this extended road trip.
To get the low-down on D.C. we spoke to Ben Bromley from Black and Red United, SB Nation's D.C. United blog.
TBM: So 0-2-1 must not have been the start you guys were hoping for after United's disastrous 2013 regular season. It appears that D.C. has a scoring problem, too, which is something the Revs can absolutely understand at this point. What's gone wrong so far that's lead to this opening to the season?
BB: So far, it has been taking time for the midfield to find itself and start working together properly, something which we saw the team progress on in the game against the Chicago Fire. Their relationship (or lack thereof) with the forwards was preventing any attacking play whatsoever. However, with the injury now to Luis Silva, at least one new player will have to be thrown into the mix. Hopefully, the progress made by Perry Kitchen and Nick DeLeon especially can continue and the introduction of a new player will be more seamless than before.
The other main problem is the defense, which has four new starers this year. They have not shown as much progress as the midfield so far in this short season, and the lack of speed of Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell has not yet been balanced out by their soccer IQ and ability in the air. Christian, the new Spanish fullback, has also not yet lived up to his supposed pedigree.
TBM: Last season's D.C. set records for MLS futility. What were the biggest moves in the offseason that you believe will help keep that from happening again?
BB: The biggest moves were acquiring proven MLS veterans, such as Boswell, Parke, Fabian Esinpdola, Eddie Johnson, and Davy Arnaud. While these players most likely will not make D.C. United MLS Cup favorites overnight, they can help rebuild a mindset of winning and help mentor the younger players who will replace them in the next season or two.
TBM: D.C. just bought Chris Rolfe from Chicago. What do you think was the rationale behind the move, and how do you expect it to affect this weekend's match?
BB: D.C. United wanted Chris Rolfe in the Re-Entry Draft, and were going to take him in the second stage until he re-signed with the Chicago Fire. All of that is to say that I would caution reading too much into based on current injuries, such as to Chris Pontius and Luis Silva. However, with Pontius out at least another 8-12 weeks, the need for another attacker that can play both wide and centrally was obvious, especially for when Eddie Johnson is likely gone for the World Cup this summer.
I don't think he will necessarily start this game, but I think we will see him debut for D.C. United in the second half, replacing Davy Arnaud in central attacking midfield.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player Revs fans should watch out for in this match.
BB: Perry Kitchen will be a name that is familiar to New England fans, but he is the key to everything that D.C. United does. He took a step forward in the game against the Chicago Fire, combining his traditional break-up play with an ability to get forward and play the first pass that started many of United's attacks. His goal off of a scrum in the box was just the cherry on top of a great performance from the fourth-year player who is still only 22. Should he continue at this level throughout the season, he will get recognition throughout the Eastern Conference and the league.
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
BB: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Jeff Parke, Christian; Perry Kitchen; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Lewis Neal; Fabian Espindola, Eddie Johnson.
As it is a home game against another struggling team, I will go with my heart and predict a 2-1 win for United.
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