Following their fourth home loss of the season — a disheartening 3-2 defeat at the hands of conference rival Philadelphia — the Revs now find themselves behind the Union and below the playoff red line for the first time since Week 3. They face an uphill battle in regaining early season form, with seven of their final eleven matches this season coming away from Gillette. Their road journey begins on Sunday night with a trip to the District of Columbia to face a DC United squad rejuvenated by the presence and performance of newly-acquired England legend Wayne Rooney.
After losing two of the first three matches in which Rooney appeared, the Red and Black are now on a four-game unbeaten run and 4-2-1 overall since his arrival. Their 2-7-5 record before his landing in DC now seems like ancient history. Most recently, United defeated Orlando City SC at the death on Sunday thanks to a highlight-reel, two-way effort from the captain. Then on Wednesday, Rooney’s brace helped the four-time MLS champs take down a Cup-contending Portland squad coming off a 15-match unbeaten streak. He has three goals and three assists on the year in just seven appearances (five starts). His leadership and work ethic have galvanzied both the team and the fanbase. With two games in hand over most of their competitors in the East, DC United is in prime position for a playoff push.
First Meeting: June 30, 2018, at Gillette Stadium
Result: Revs 3, DC United 2
In a hotly-contested affair following news Rooney was indeed headed to DC in the summer transfer window, the Revs outlasted DC United 3-2 at Gillette. Yamil Asad’s brace was cancelled by Cristian Penilla’s two-goal effort, the difference provided by Teal Bunbury’s first-half stoppage-time goal. Asad had tied the match 1-1 with a 42nd minute strike after Penilla opened the scoring in the 18th minute. The Argentine’s penalty kick knotted things at 2-2 midway through the second stanza before Penilla’s own PK just five minutes later provided the winning margin.
DC United: A Closer Look
Overall Record: 6-9-6, 24 pts, 37 GF, 39 GA, -2 GD
Standing: 8th in Eastern Conference (10 points below red line)
Current Form: W-W-D-W-L
Record: 5-1-1, 16 points (2.3 points/match), +7 GD
GF: 15 (2.1 GF/match)
GA: 8 (1.1 GA/match)
Primary Formation: 4-1-4-1
It’s unclear whether Rooney will start or even make an appearance against the Revs, as he’s played over 180 minutes since last Sunday. More likely, early season starter Darren Mattocks will get the nod at number nine, with Rooney coming on a late-game substitute if needed. Newly reacquired goalkeeper Bill Hamid made his first start since returning to his former club, making a save and allowing a goal vs the Timbers. David Ousted likely is between the pipes against the Revs. Defender Nick DeLeon is back at training following a knee injury, but he’s likely still a couple weeks away from game action.
Team Leaders (at home):
Acosta - 4
Rooney - 3
Arriola/Mattocks - 2
Rooney/Asad - 3
Acosta/Stieber - 2
Canouse - 91.8
Rooney - 87.8
Moreno - 86.2
Save % - 59.3
GA/gm - 1.88
Shutouts - 0
New England: A Closer Look
Record: 7-8-8, 29 pts, 38 GF, 38 GA, 0 GD
Standing: 7th in Eastern Conference (5 points below red line)
Current Form: L-D-L-L-L
Record: 1-4-5, 8 points (0.8 points/match), -5 GD
GF: 16 (1.6 GF/match)
GA: 21 (2.1 GA/match)
Primary Formation: 4-2-3-1
Word on the street is that new CB Michael Mancienne, who recently completed his preseason at previous club Nottingham Forest, may be available for selection on Sunday despite having just started training with the Revs. They probably need him in these desperate times when points are crucial. Not sure if holding mid Cristhian Machado sees time, as he stayed on the bench last weekend. Former captain Claude Dielna and Gabriel Somi didn't even make the match-day eighteen vs the Union, quite an indictment, as Brandon Bye made a second straight start at left back. A big question is whether all-star Wilfried Zahibo, who has struggled mightily recently, gets another start. A Scott Caldwell and Luis Caicedo pairing in the defensive midfield would not be a surprise.
Team Leaders (on the road):
Penilla/Bunbury - 5
Zahibo/Fagundez - 2
Fagundez - 4
Delamea - 85.7
Caldwell - 82.6
Caicedo - 79.3
Save % - 66.4
GA/gm - 1.65
Shutouts - 4
DC United does a great job in creating chances with short passes and through balls on overlapping runs, and they finish their chances well. They often attack down the right wing through Paul Arriola and Lucien Acosta. The Revs will need to be quite disciplined in their defensive third with their shape, marking and switching. The Red and Black are also vulnerable to attacks down the wings, a primary technique used by New England on their frequent counterattacks.
DC plays out of their own half, so the Revs have a chance with their high pressure to create several goal-scoring opportunities. They like to counterattack with Rooney or 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. New England will need to be much better in possession in the attacking half to minimize this threat.
United are also great at set pieces, the defending of which has become an Achilles heel for New England. Conversely, DC doesn't defend set pieces well, either, so the Revs may be able to cash in there.
This is the 73nd all-time regular season meeting between these historic rivals and the final one this season. DC United leads the series with a 33-27-12 record, including a huge 23-9-4 advantage at home. New England has lost eight of their last ten vs DC, including five straight in the nation’s capital during which they’ve been outscored 10-1. New England’s last result in DC was a 2-1 victory in 2013.
How to Watch
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 19, 2018
Venue: Audi Field, Washington DC
TV: FS1, Fox Deportes
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub (Boston); WILC 900 AM (in Spanish) (DC)