History is heavily on the side of the New England Revolution going into Friday’s match against the sixth-place New York Red Bulls. The Revs took two out of three regular season meetings in 2015 by scores of 2-1 in each match. Both victories came on home turf for New England, lending a glimmer of hope for fans and players that are hungry for a victory this week.
New York's Previous Struggles Against New England
New York has struggled against New England for the past two seasons, going back to the Eastern Conference Championship in 2014 where the Revs surprised many with their dominant series play. Revs fans know that despite pulling off huge series wins against the Columbus Crew and New York during the playoffs, that the LA Galaxy still had the last laugh in MLS Cup 2014.
Each club’s defense has allowed at least seven goals this season (Revs-7, Red Bulls-8), opening the door for both side’s offenses to score in bunches. On the flip side, anyone that watched the Revs offense try to score against NYCFC last week knows the club struggled severely to put any shot on target, especially Teal Bunbury. Traditionally, each side is capable of scoring two or three goals a match, but neither has started off 2016 on a high scoring frenzy.
New York returns to action after battling to a 4-3 win over the Houston Dynamo, thanks to two incredible goals from Felipe Martins. Mike Grella and Sacha Kljestan also chipped in goals to help power New York to victory. Before that match, the Red Bulls were shut out in their opening two matches. In spite of that morale boost, three big strikes against New York this Friday are the absences of Ronald Zubar, Gideon Baah and Gonzalo Veron with injuries.
Teal Bunbury showed that he wants to be a focus of the Revs attack last week against New York City FC. However, his lack of accuracy hindered any chance of victory. Even with his lack of finishing, Bunbury is the man to watch this week. Aside from him, Lee Nguyen returns from International duty with the USMNT, where he did not see the field, leaving him fresh and hungry to get the ball at his feet again.
Three notable defensive players for New York are out as stated above. New England must return to their creative and defensive stretching play. Nguyen must take over the match with his impressive long ball and pinpoint accuracy. Right from the opening kick, the Revs must press the depleted defense and Chris Tierney must get up field quickly for serving balls into the box.
New England Needs Better Communication On Backline
While no players on the backline are out with injury or suspension, the same theme still remains evident for New England: close down opposing players and find a better way to communicate throughout the match. Andrew Farrell looks lost, and Jose Goncalves needs a refresher on playing defense in MLS. Despite the defensive absences for New York, there is still an arsenal of options that the club can burn any team with.
No matter what side of the fence you fall on for this match, each team needs a win, not only for their own season progression but also to help bolster the terribly poor Eastern Conference in MLS. New York holds more dynamic players to take the victory, however New England owns the series history and has a chip on their shoulder.