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Know Thy Enemy: New England-Orlando Three Questions Preview with The Mane Land

Orlando City Soccer vs. New England Revolution Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images

There have not been a lot of things to gripe about for New England Revolution fans in the Bruce Arena era. The Revs are on a 10-game unbeaten streak, just clawed their way back into a playoff place, and broke their incoming transfer spending record for the second time this season when they acquired Gustavo Bou.

Yet, I have a gripe.

Today’s Revs-Orlando City SC match is being played on grass on top of the turf to accommodate tomorrow’s Milan-Benfica International Champion’s Cup match. I think it’s the second such game played on grass this year with the friendly against Chelsea on May 15th being the other. While that game didn’t count in the standings, tonight’s game will and it’s not the results that concern me - it’s the possibility for injuries.

Fans might remember Rueben Loftus-Cheek tearing his Achilles tendon in that earlier match, putting him out of the Europa League final and an additional six months. The turf monster can strike at any time at Gillette but I can’t see how this idea of grass on top is any better or safer than standard turf. I have no science or stats to back this up, it’s just my gut. And my gut doesn’t like this.

My gut would prefer playing on the Gillette turf known for keeping big time Designated Players from other teams off the field, the true home field advantage that in years past has countered the Revs dismal road record.

I know that big international friendlies are usually great business ventures but the idea of playing on trays of sod or whatever on top of turf doesn’t excite me at all. In fact, when I answered Ben Miller’s questions for his Mane Land preview he published yesterday, I would hold out Bou, Penilla, Agudelo and maybe even Luis Caicedo for the start of this game. Maybe even the whole thing if the Revs are cruising late just to avoid unnecessary risk of injury. I doubt that the players want to go along with that idea, Bou especially seems to want to rack up minutes right now. But Orlando is an opponent that the Revs should be able to handle at home without their big DP’s and a lineup of Diego Fagundez in the middle with Teal Bunbury up top thanks to the Revs resurgence in form and defensive play.

Unbeaten streaks and everything else be damned, this is a game I don’t mind throwing away just to have everyone walk off and be able to play next week. If you want your team to play on, no...I promised I wouldn’t go there.

Anyway, the Revs and OCSC kickoff later tonight at 7pm on NBCSBoston and ESPN+. As always, thanks for Ben for reaching out and exchanging answers with us for tonight’s game.

TBM: In the past few weeks, Orlando has only beaten Columbus (doing so twice), but didn’t look convincing in either game, particularly on offense. Is OCSC struggling to generate chances or are they just good at converting the few chances the stats say they’re getting?

BM: The two games against Columbus saw Orlando City make the most of the extremely limited chances they had. Unfortunately for the Lions though that hasn’t been the case for the majority of the season as the team has struggled mightily to put the ball in the back of the net. In many games the team will carve out a handful of good chances but simply fail to convert them. The team has lost a number of games by only one goal, and has four 1-0 losses to its name. In last weeks 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls the team recorded 18 shots, but only put four of those on target and scored with none of them. Finishing has been a problem for much of the year, and the last several weeks have been no exception.

TBM: We all know the big offseason signing for OCSC was getting Nani. We know the stats are there, 8 goals/7 assists so far this year. Where as Nani made the Lions better and where do they need to improve to help take some of the attacking burden off his shoulders?

BM: While Nani had a particularly hot start to the campaign teams have begun to key on him more in recent weeks. Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele have been solid contributors but there needs to be more across the board, especially when it comes to providing creativity out of the midfield. The team could probably use another attacking midfielder to help facilitate things in the final third as I’m not sure there’s a player like that currently within the team.

TBM: The Revs might not have a player on the MLS roster for the ASG, but how excited is the team/fans to host this event in that awesome stadium that New England isn’t jealous about at all?

BM: There’s definitely some excitement for the event about town. For one thing the game acts as a showcase for the league as a whole, and its an honor to be chosen to host the festivities. Plus, Atletico Madrid is bringing a pretty strong 26 man squad on their summer tour so its also a chance to watch some elite level players up close which is always a welcome opportunity. The game and lead-up to it is also a chance for the city to show off its ability to host big events, something could prove important since the city is still in the running to be a host city for the 2026 World Cup. Aside from all of those things though people are just excited to be able to go to the game and watch the best players in MLS do their thing-and in a shiny soccer specific stadium no less!


Cristian Higuita, Shane O’Neill, and Alex DeJohn will all be unavailable due to injury.

Projected lineup:

Brian Rowe

Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sane, Ruan

Sebas Mendez, Will Johnson, Uri Rosell

Chris Mueller, Dom Dwyer, Nani

Score prediction: 1-1 draw.