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Revolution welcome travel-weary DC United to Gillette following World Cup hiatus

New England hasn’t won in seven straight vs DC United dating back to 2014

MLS: D.C. United at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Former US international Jermaine Jones left an indelible mark in New England. In just 18 months from 2014-2015, he led the Revolution to two playoff appearances and an MLS Cup final. His fiery grit and desire to win were unquestionable, and they helped turn New England matches into must-see TV. Jones’ final scene in a Revs’ kit, though, was rather inglorious, with his passion getting the best of him. The team captain was sent off with a second yellow in stoppage time after shoving referee Mark Geiger following a missed handball call in the box. New England would eventually fall 2-1 in that October 2015 knockout round, a road playoff match which is, to date, their last taste of the postseason.

The victors that fateful night? Four-time MLS Cup champions DC United.

Breaking Down DC United

Record: 2-6-4, 10 pts, 19 GF, 24 GA, -5 GD

Standing: 11th in Eastern Conference (11 points below red line)

Current Form: D-L-D-W-L

Following consecutive fourth-place finishes in the Eastern Conference, DC United hit rock-bottom in 2017. Their 20 losses, -29 goal differential, and 32 points put them dead last in each category. Their 31 goals scored were tied for fewest in the league last year, while their 60 goals allowed were fourth most.

Accordingly, eighth-year head coach Ben Olsen partially overhauled his roster in the offseason, moving familiar faces Bill Hamid, Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Lamar Neagle, Lloyd Sam and Patrick Nyarko out of the nation’s capital. Attacking midfielder Yamil Asad and veteran forward Darren Mattocks highlighted the winter arrivals for DC on offense. Asad was brought in on loan from Velez, his home club in Argentina, by way of Atlanta United FC where he spent 2017. In his first MLS season, he scored 7 goals and dished out 13 assists for the Five Stripes’ potent attack. He’s already scored five and assisted on two more for DC while playing on the left side of the midfield.

Mattocks, the Jamaican international acquired from Portland, scored just four goals in 24 appearances (11 starts) last season for Timbers FC, but the physical striker already has seven goals in 10 starts for the Red and Black. In fact, he’s scored in four straight — and in 5 of his last 6 — league matches. Compared to 2017, Mattocks’ seven goals have already eclipsed the totals of last year’s DC United season co-leaders Luciano Acosta and Patrick Mullins, each with just five scores. In his third season with the club, former Revolution forward Mullins has two goals and an assist in 9 appearances (2 starts) as Mattocks’ backup.

Fellow Argentinian and Boca Juniors’ product Acosta, in his third season with DC, joins Asad as the primary playmaker, operating more centrally for the Red and Black. His six assists on the year are already tied with last year’s leader, the departed Sam. The right side of the DC United midfield is patrolled by US international Paul Arriola, now in first full season with the club following his transfer from Liga MX side Tijuana. He’s scored twice and assisted on five others while also working in a box-to-box role in place of the injured Ulises Segura. The former Saprissa midfielder is currently on the disabled list. Hungarian international Zoltan Stieber, in his first full season after spending time in the Bundesliga, has two goals and three assists playing on the right flank.

Midfielder Chris Durkin, now in his third full season with DC, has finally become a regular starter, cracking the lineup seven times as a holding mid in Olsen’s 4-1-4-1 formation. DC United’s youngest-ever Homegrown shares duty with Venezuelan international Junior Moreno, who was acquired early in 2018 from Venezuelan first-division side Zulia FC.

The centerpiece of DC’s backline is fifth-year centerback Steve Birnbaum. He’s joined by former NYCFC defender Frederic Brillant in the absence of another fifth-year centerback, Kofi Opare, who’s been out all year with an ankle injury. Veteran Nick DeLeon, now in his seventh year with the the Red and Black, can play both outside back positions, but he’s primarily been on the right. The former winger, however, has been out with a knee injury for a couple of weeks. Jamaican international Oniel Fisher, acquired from Sounders FC earlier this year, has started on the right in DeLeon’s stead. Costa Rican Joseph Mora, formerly of Saprissa, has made eight starts this season, mostly at left back.

Longtime Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted has taken over for Hamid between the sticks. In his nine starts, though, he’s only saved 61% of shots faced without recording a clean sheet. Former Crew SC netminder Steve Clark, in just three starts, has a 73% save rate and a shutout in his account.

DC United have had an irregular start to their season, playing ten of their first twelve on the road as they await the opening of Audi Field next month. Their two home matches have been played at the Maryland Soccerplex. With just a dozen matches under their belt, the Red and Black have four games in hand over most Eastern Conference teams. With that in mind, the club’s playoff position—DC stands 11 points south of the red line—doesn’t look so bad after all.

Breaking Down New England

Record: 6-4-6, 24 pts, +4

Standing: 5th in Eastern Conference (6 points above red line)

Current Form: D-D-W-D-D

New England is coming off a 2-2 draw at San Jose in their last league match from over two weeks ago. The Revs fell behind early, scored two goals to take a 2-1 halftime lead, then gave up the equalizer just after the break. Despite 35 total shots on the night, neither team could snap the deadlock in the final 40 minutes. First-year coach Brad Friedel and a few players rued the result after the match, feeling as if two points were dropped.

The Revs came out in a 4-4-2, with first-time captain and assists leader Diego Fagundez lined up adjacent to top team goalscorer Teal Bunbury at forward. Cristian Penilla started on the left midfield flank, with Krisztian Nemeth making his third start as his opposite number on the right. Luis Caicedo and Kelyn Rowe deployed centrally, with Rowe dropping a bit deeper into the defensive midfield. Recently benched Gabriel Somi got the start at his normal left back spot in the absence of the suspended Claude Dielna. Andrew Farrell remained on the right, while Jalil Anibaba and Antonio Delamea got the call once again at centerback. Matt Turner made his 16th straight start in goal.

New England’s occasional high pressure didn’t seem to trouble San Jose all that much. The visitors’ goals came from a set piece and a counterattack. However, their high line certainly provided ample operating space for the Quakes in the attacking half, which they exploited with moderate success all night.

The Revs have not lost in five straight, gaining four draws and a win. This match vs DC United is the first of three straight home games before New England closes out their season with ten of fifteen away from Gillette Stadium.

Analysis

In nine home matches this season, the Revolution have averaged just under two goals per match while allowing exactly one goal on average per game. In ten road matches, DC United, on the other hand, have allowed more than two goals each match, on average, while averaging about one-and-a-half goals per game.

DC likes to counterattack with Mattocks and Asad leading the way, which could be problematic for the Revs backline which doesn’t close down well and isn’t great at one-on-one defending. However, New England likes to press and counter, as well, and a DC back four missing DeLeon and Opare could likewise be vulnerable.

By The Numbers

This is the 72nd all-time regular season meeting between these historic rivals. DC United leads the series with a 33-26-12 record. New England holds a 17-10-8 edge at home. New England hasn’t won in seven straight and eight-of-nine vs DC. Their last win was a 2-1 home victory in 2014. All three home matches since then have resulted in draws. The Revs have only scored two goals in their last five matches vs the Red and Black dating back to 2015.

With the new Audi Field under construction, DC United has only played two “home” matches in the DC area. They’ve already been on the road for ten games and have a 1-6-3 record. Their only road win came at San Jose — the Revs’ last opponent — in mid May. DC is winless in three straight away from home. They’ve also been outscored 22-16 at road venues in 2018.

The Revolution are 5-2-2 at Gillette Stadium and are unbeaten in four of their last five at home. Overall, New England has just one win in their past five matches, but they are unbeaten in all five. DC United has won just once in their last six league matches.

Of the Revolution’s 27 goals this season, six have been scored just before halftime, while another seven have occurred in the final fifteen minutes of the match. New England has allowed four goals after the 75th minute.

Of DC United’s 19 goals scored this season, 11 have been scored in the first half, with five in the first 15 minutes. Another five have been scored after the 75th minute. However, they’ve also allowed five opposition goals in the final 15 minutes. D.C. has given up three scores right after the break.

DC United has scored 16 goals in ten matches away from home this season. They’ve allowed 22 goals on the road, which is more than two per match.

The Revolution are undefeated when scoring first at 5-0-2. Conversely, DC United is just 2-3-2 after scoring the opening goal.

New England is 1-4-4 in matches in which they’ve conceded first, but the Red and Black are winless with a 0-3-2 record when conceding first.

DC United has a 1-3-2 record vs. Eastern Conference teams. New England has a 3-3-4 mark against the East.

The teams meet for the second and final time in 2018 at the new Audi Field in mid August.

How to Watch

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 30
Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: NBC Sports Boston (Boston); NewsChannel 8 (DC)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub (Boston); WILC 900 AM (in Spanish) (DC)
Streaming: MLS Live (now on ESPN+)