The Opponent: New England Revolution (3-0-1)
Starters: (4-4-2) - Tyler Miller, Ruan, Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Mo Jeahze, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Russell Canouse, Mateusz Klich, Chris Durkin, Christian Benteke, Nigel Robertha
Subs: Alex Bono, Hayden Sargis, Jacob Greene, Jackson Hopkins, Yamil Asad
Captain: Steve Birnbaum
International Call Up:
Victor Pálsson (Iceland)
New England Revolution
Starters: (4-3-2-1) - Dorde Petrovic, Brandon Bye, Henry Kessler, Dave Romney, DeJuan Jones; Latif Blessing, Matt Polster, Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Dylan Borrero, Bobby Wood.
Subs: Nico Campuzano, Andrew Farrel, Noel Buck, Emmanuel Boateng, Omar González, Justin Rennicks, Giacomo Vrioni, Jozy Altidore, Damián Rivera, Esmir Bajraktarevic
Captain: Carles Gil
Nacho Gil (right leg)
Jacob Jackson (left ACL)
Maciel (left Achilles),
Tommy McNamara (left leg)
Earl Edwards Jr., (illness)
International Call Up:
Dylan Borrero (Colombia)
Christian Makoun (Venezuela)
DC United - Pete Shuttleworth - DC United Head Coach Wayne Rooney has picked up a virus, which has had him home recovering. There is a better than average chance that Pete Shuttleworth will be manning the sideline for the Black and Red. The Englishman followed Rooney from Derby County, who was brought in for his experience with analysis, coaching, and recruitment.
New England Revolution - Bruce Arena - DC United’s original Head Coach became the Revolution’s Sporting Director and the club’s eighth head coach in early 2019. He had an immediate impact on the team, as they improved from a team outside of the playoffs, to a team that won the MLS' Supporters' Shield in 2021 with a league-record 73 points off of 22 wins and 7 ties. The Revolution did take a step back last season, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference after a couple key players moved on. However, Arena has New England off to a great start this season, winning 3 of their opening 4 games. albeit their sole defeat came in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of reigning MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC.
Keys to the Match:
Can DC break down the Revolution’s Defense? New England’s strong start to the season is largely down to a string of solid defensive performances. All 3 of the Revolution’s victories were shutouts. Goalkeeper Djordje Petrović has received plenty of praise for these clean sheets, but Center-Back Henry Kessler also deserves much credit. He has been named to the MLS Team of the Matchday twice so far.
Kessler and Dave Romney provide a strong defensive foundation. Christian Benteke will have to challenge them with his physical presence. At 6-foot-3 Benteke has shown he can control the box, and has a knack for getting open, it will be important for his teammates, Ted Ku-DiPietro and Mateusz Klich will need to play off him, and provide support. The Black and Red have created plenty of opportunities in every game this season, they will need to make those opportunities count if they want to get back to a winning form.
Will DC face the Revolution’s best player?
New England could have their main star back as Carles Gil has been taken off the Revolution’s official availability report after missing last weekend’s win over Nashville with a muscle strain. On Thursday, the Revolution’s Head Coach, Bruce Arena was quoted as saying that if Gil felt good following Friday morning’s training session, he would travel to Washington for the game. If he is back and able to start, the Revolution will have one of their most dangerous weapons back who could cause the DC defense a lot of problems.
Which team’s fullbacks will play best? New England boasts one of the best sets of fullbacks in MLS. Brandon Bye and DeJuan Jones offer both solid defense while being dangerous in attack. Brandon Bye has scored a goal while putting 3 shots on goal. While DeJuan Jones has not scored a goal this season, he has 2 assists. On the other hand, DC United are still trying to overhaul their fullbacks. One player brought from overseas is Mohanad Jeahze has no goals, but two assists this season. He is coming off a poor game in New York, where he came off early after picking up a knock. Ruan is the new Right-Back, who was traded for from Orlando City. He also had a poor last game, being subbed out at halftime.
DC is going to need both of these players to have bounce back games, both because Rooney’s strategy is predicated on the fullbacks to advance the ball, but also because there is so little depth behind them. Ruan is starting because Najar is out with injury. Pedro Santos, who is the backup for Jeahze is out 3 weeks after knee surgery. Akinmboni came in last week for Jeahze when he picked up a knock, but is out this week due to a concussion picked up during that game. At this point only Jacob Greene is available. The good news is that he played really well in his time on the field last week.
Will the Cherry Blossoms bring DC luck?
This will be the long awaited debut of DC United’s Cherry Blossom Kit. Can the team christen the popular uniform with a victory? The supporters surely hope so.
Things to Watch:
Offense - The Black and Red’s offense has not been the problem; in 4 games this season, DC has 6 goals, and they will need to be at their best, as New England ranks 10th in defense with only 4 goals conceded. Both Designated Players Mateusz Klich and striker Christian Benteke are in fine form early this season, and Ted Ku-DiPietro has shown he can hold his own. The team still awaits the return of Taxi Fuentes, who will give the team one more player who has proven quite capable of putting the ball in the net. Expect the team to continue to cross the ball into the box, and challenge Benteke to put the ball on goal.
Defense - DC United have the worst defensive record in the division at this stage in the season which is something that they will need to address soon if they are to improve from last season. Rooney’s defense has already allowed eight goals in four games; two goals a game is unsustainable. This week will see a new starting Center-Back with injuries to Williams, Akinmboni, and Victor Pálsson being away for international duty. Most likely that player will be Donovan Pines. It will be interesting to see if Pines can take this opportunity and make an argument for more playing time in the future. On the bench will be Hayden Sargis, who continues to be a mystery as to whether he can play at the MLS level.
By the Numbers:
DC United ranks number 5 in offense with 6 goals scored.
DC United has conceded 8 goals, to rank 27th in the league in defense.
DC United’s negative 2 goal differential ranks the club number 18 in MLS.
New England ranks 10th in offense with 5 goals in 4 matches.
New England ranks 10th in defense with 4 goals conceded.
New England’s plus 1 goal differential ranks the club number 9 in MLS.
Mateusz Klich has 1 goal and 2 assists, as he has become a key contributor for DC United.
Christian Benteke has scored 2 goals, for 6th in the league, but has zero assists.
Gustavo Bou has 1 goal on 2 shots, or 0.5 per game.
Bobby Wood has scored 1 goal and 1 assist this season.
Richard - 3-1 DC. DC United are without a clean sheet in their first 4 games this season while the Revolution have kept 3 this season, however I believe DC’s offense will play better than Revolution’s defense. On the other hand, I believe DC’s defense will keep New England’s offense anemic.
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Written by: Daniel Morris and RJ Rolsen