New England Revolution
Starters: (4-4-2) - Dorde Petrovic, Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Dave Romney, Ryan Spaulding, Ian Harkes, Emmanuel Boateng, Matt Polster, Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Bobby Wood.
Subs: Earl Edwards Jr, Ben Sweat, Omar González, Noel Buck, Justin Rennicks, Damian Rivera, Giacomo Vrioni, Jack Panayotou
Captain: Carles Gil
Nacho Gil (right leg)
Dylan Borrero (knee)
Maciel (left achilles),
Tommy McNamara (left leg)
Henry Kessler (hamstring)
International Call up
DeJuan Jones (questionable)
Starters: (3-5-2) - Tyler Miller, Andy Najar, Victor Pálsson, Steve Birnbaum, Derrick Williams, Yamil Asad, Russell Canouse, Mateusz Klich, Lewis O’Brien, Taxi Fountas, Christian Benteke,
Subs: Alex Bono, Ruan, Chris Durkin, Brendan Hines-Ike, Gaoussou Samaké, Cristian Dájome, Kristian Fletcher, Erik Hurtado, Nigel Robertha
Captain: Steve Birnbaum
Mo Jeahze (ankle)
Ted Ku-DiPietro (Ankle)
Pedro Santos (thigh)
Donovan Pines (Yellow Card accumulation)
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 as one of the top teams this season. Arena again has accumulated talent, put them on the field, and then got out of their way, and let his stars shine.
DC United - Wayne Rooney
The English Gaffer has continued to improve DC United’s play in all aspects on the field. Every player has demonstrated some improvement this year. At the same time he has built a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that hasn’t been seen in years.
Rooney is a pragmatic coach who continues to build his strategy around the strengths of his players, while putting in place tactics designed to mitigate their weaknesses. Rooney continues to preach the idea of playing with courage and on the front foot, yet at the same time patience and calmness on the ball when in the attack, so they can maintain control of the game. His team is playing better in defense and controlling the flow of the game. The next step is for the Black & Red to improve in the final third and create more scoring opportunities.
Wayne Rooney has displayed a tactical intuition about what his team needs late in games, and has done a good job bringing in substitutions.
Keys to the Match:
Can DC beat the Revolution’s Goalkeeper? New England’s strong run this season is largely on the shoulders of their Goalkeeper, Djordje Petrović. Petrović has received plenty of praise for his play this season, where he’s been arguably the best goalkeeper in MLS. The young Serbian goalkeeper has been so good he’s been the subject of transfer rumors with English Premier League teams. At 6-foot-4, Petrovic is a giant between the posts. That combined with his phenomenal athleticism makes it very difficult to score on him. He has the length, speed and quickness to make acrobatic saves, which he has done on numerous occasions.
This season DC United has often run afoul of goalkeepers who stood on their heads and kept them from scoring, so going against arguably the league’s best goalie is a daunting challenge. The Black & Red have a chance with Christian Benteke and Taxi Fountas, but they can’t be wasteful of their opportunities.
Can DC contain the Revolution’s best player? The first time the Black & Red faced New England they only had to face Carles Gil for the final 30 minutes. Of course the former MLS MVP made the most of those minutes, placing an inch perfect pass to Gustavo Bou, who took advantage of Chris Durkin, making his first start at Right Back, and slot a shot past Miller. This was just a taste of what Gil would do this season.
Carles Gil has delivered a playmaking highlight show all season. If it wasn’t for the play of Hany Mukthar in Nashville, and Lucio Acosta for FC Cincinnati, Gil would be the odds-on-favorite for his second MVP. In just the last match, he was instrumental in setting up both of the Rev’s goals in the first nine minutes against Atlanta United.
Which midfield will United face? New England has used the early days of the Summer transfer window to remake their midfield. Outside of Carles Gil, there has been a lot of fluctuation with their midfielders, save for Matt Polster. Polster is the Rev’s most steady player, but he’s only an average defensive midfielder, so Bruce Arena has looked to make changes to support him and bolster the midfield line.
One player that the Revolution has already turned to has been Noel Buck. The Homegrown player has been a revelation this season, and the young midfielder could get the start with the short turnaround. Buck has definitely earned his playing time this season, providing energy and courage on the field along with youthful hustle.
The first of the newest players on the team is also a familiar face for United fans. Ian Harkes recently joined the Revolution after returning from a four year stint in Scotland. He plays a hybrid 6/8 Midfielder very similar to how DC utilizes Chris Durkin. He’s improved his play in the Scottish Premier League, and United can expect him to hustle all over the pitch to win every loose ball.
The latest new face who could be on the team’s bench against United is Mark Anthony Kaye. He recently joined after a trade with Toronto which saw Latif Blessing go to the Canadian team. He also plays that defensive-center midfielder position similar to Harkes, so is a bit of a surprise. He’s probably been brought on for depth, experience and because he will be the most physical Center Midfielder on the Revs.
Can DC break the Revolution’s fortress?
People may not know this, but Gillette Stadium in Foxboro has been a fortress for New England. The Rev’s win over Atlanta improved their home unbeaten streak to 11 games.
DC United has been better on the road this season, but they are still not world beaters. This match looks to be very similar to what the Black & Red faced in Nashville. There the team was timid, and played on the back foot, unable to handle their opponent’s press. If United wants to at least pick up a point in the Rev’s house, they are going to need to play lights out defense, and press advantage’s when they get them.
After a disappointing 2-2 draw against Inter Miami, the Black & Red really could use getting a point.
Thank you Lewis O’Brien
Unfortunately this will be the last game DC United has the services of Center Midfielder Lewis O’Brien. He has been a great contributor for this team, and it’s been fun to watch him play. He was worth bringing in, even for just a half a season. He was perfect for Rooney’s style and definitely fit the profile and temperament that Rooney wants to be the team’s personality.
Things to Watch:
Offense - The Black and Red’s offense has been inconsistent the past few weeks. It has not helped that Christian Benteke is going through a scoring draw. One bright spot for DC is Taxi has picked up the scoring burden with his 6 goals. Together, Benteke and Taxi should be a great one-two punch. Unfortunately though due to a number of circumstances, United still hasn’t really seen this duo live up to their full potential. And they will need to be at their best, as New England again is one of MLS’s leaders in defense.
All of the Black & Red’s Designated Players have been valuable contributors this season, Mateusz Klich, Taxi Fountas, and striker Christian Benteke have been in fine form this season, but they can do better. The team still awaits the game when all three truly click, and this team reaches its scoring potential.
Expect the team to continue to cross the ball into the box, and challenge Benteke to put the ball on goal.
Defense - DC United’s performance last week versus Inter Miami was a microcosm of the team’s defensive performance this season. The team looks strong and in control and then there’s a mistake by a player or a breakdown in communication, and the team gives up goals it just shouldn’t have. For the Black & Red to move up in the standings, the need more consistency in their defense.
This week will see a new starting Center-Back combination with Pines out on Yellow Card accumulation. The most likely three player combination will most likely be Derrick Williams, Steven Birnbaum, and Victor Pálsson. It would be interesting to see if Brendan Hines-Ike over Birnbaum, as he is faster.
Gillette Stadium has a turf field, it therefore could affect who plays defense. Most likely Andy Najar will not start. It would then be either Chris Durkin or Ruan. With Najar available off the bench, expect Ruan to give the start. On the opposite side of the pitch, it’s most likely that Cristian Dájome gets his second start at the Left Wingback position.
As the team will be facing one of the best Attacking Midfielders, there’s a good chance Russell Canouse gets the start, so he can chase Gil over the pitch. It's important that United's Midfielders to be quick to the ball, and press quickly.
The Revolution have become a very prolific team, DC United must avoid any mistakes and breakdowns in their organization, otherwise they will be scored on.
By the Numbers:
New England ranks 4th in offense with 38 goals.
New England ranks 10th in defense with 28 goals conceded.
New England’s plus 10 goal differential ranks the club number 6 in MLS.
Carles Gil has 7 goals (17th in league) and 4 assists.
Bobby Wood has scored 7 goals and 4 assists this season.
Gustavo Bou has 4 goals and 3 assists.
Vrioni has scored 5 goals but has no assists.
DC United ranks number 10th in offense with 32 goals scored.
DC United has conceded 30 goals, to rank 14th in the league in defense.
DC United’s plus 2 goal differential ranks the club number 121 c in MLS.
Christian Benteke has scored 8 goals and 2 assists.
Taxi Fountas has scored 6 goals and 1 assist.
Mateusz Klich has 2 goals and 5 assists.
Ruan has Zero goals, but four assists
Richard - 2-0 Revs. DC United are not playing their best defense and the offense is hit or miss. Unfortunately the Black & Red are not able to crack the Revolution's fortress.
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Written by: RJ Rolsen