Well for the first time this season RSL is in one of those stretches that can really test a team’s depth, and it really couldn’t come at a worse time as the forward corps is riddled with injuries. Only 3 forwards travelled to the East coast for the pair of matches this week (New England on Wednesday, Montreal on Saturday) , so that will mean that we are likely to see the starting tandem of Devon Sandoval and Joao Plata on Wednesday, maybe Olmes Garcia off the bench or in the lineup on Saturday (not on turf). Outside of our forwards, the RSL depth chart is looking good with few other injuries that would impact the normal starting XI.
With the new alignment of the MLS schedule we only see Eastern Conference teams once a year, but we know a few things about the Revolution. First, they finished last year with a 9-17-8 record, and second their 2013 start hasn’t been much better at 2-3-3 with just 4 goals scored. We also know that RSL is 7-4-4 against the Revolution with 30 goals scored to their 19, and while RSL has never been known as a strong road team, they are 3-2-2 at New England with both sides having scored 11 goals. When I look at the match preview, the thing that scares me the most is Jose Carlos Rivero, who is he? He is the ref in charge of the match, he has 11 previous MLS matches under his belt, calls 25.8 fouls per match, issues 3.7 yellows per match, and has pointed to the PK spot 4 times already, and issued 4 red cards as well. Yikes.
Carlos Salcedo – RSL’s first home grown player to see the pitch in a MLS match, could get his first start on Wednesday as Nat Borchers is out with a cold, Kwame Watson-Siriboe didn’t travel with the team. It is still up in the air but with with Carlos looking very good in reserve matches and having the potential to be huge part of the RSL future, could this be his chance to show what he is capable of? RSL’s last trip to New England came on short rest and saw a number of guys not normally in the starting XI get the start, could it happen again? You can make arguments either way, but it is an exciting thought that we could see a HGP get the start for the Claret and Cobalt.
Chris Wingert – Saturday marked his first start of the season, and with the way New England plays and the turf, it could be a rough outing for Chris, then add in the possibility that he may be moved inside to play center back due to the fact that Nat will likely miss the match. It doesn’t matter what position Chris plays, minute will help him get back to match fitness and sharpness and that is a good thing for RSL.
Kyle Beckerman – Road matches are tough no matter who you are facing, but RSL has had success in New England in the past, and you need your captain to step up and be even more of a leader when you are away from home. Kyle is always a critical part of the roster, but with the midfield stepping up to provide more offense last weekend, it should force defenses to adjust a bit to cover guys like Gil and Morales more, which could open the door for some of those classic Beckerman shots and goals. Kyle has never been afraid of taking the shot and I love that kind of confidence from our team leader, Wednesday will provide a perfect chance for him to get his first (and maybe second) goal of the 2013 season.
Diego Fagundez – Like much of the Revolution roster, Diego is all about potential. He is the first HGP signed by the Revolution, and still just 18 years old, but has shown to have some great skills on the ball and has scored 5 MLS goals so far. I think with Jay Heaps still finding his way with the team, having players like Diego open up a world of possibilities for him. We have seen how young dynamic players can cause real headaches for opponents, Olmes Garcia popped on the scene quickly, well I consider Diego to be a similar player who is still adjusting to MLS, but if you aren’t careful he will force you to remember his name.
Juan Toja – I was a bit shocked when Juan Toja returned to MLS last year, and I am still waiting to see more than just glimpses of the player who was a two time MLS All Star (with FC Dallas) before he left for Europe. Beyond the Juan Toja wig nights, I think he was one of the sparks of FC Dallas while there and his style of play opened the door for a guy like David Ferreira. Toja’s has that “it” which can change a match in a second, but we really haven’t seen it since his return to MLS, no goals, no assists in his 11 matches played since joining New England. Perhaps he is still adjusting to the change in skill level in MLS since his departure, but he remains a dangerous player.
Saer Sene – Perhaps no player caught my attention more in 2012 than did Saer Sene, a tall (6’3” not counting his hair), lanky forward with a flashy playing style to match his bleach blond Mohawk. Had it not been for a season ending injury in August, I think he could have probably won the rookie of the year award. His 11 goals in 25 matches played would have had him in the running for the Golden Boot, if it hadn’t been for Wondo’s incredible year. He has seen very limited action so far in 2012, as is expected when you are in recovery mode from ACL surgery, but he has gotten on the pitch 4 times, and any time he is on the pitch he is a dangerous player.
Hodgepodge lineup vs. Hodgepodge lineup – Just 3 players for the New England Revolution have started in each of their 8 matches so far, if you think that is bad, Real Salt Lake has just two players to have started in each of their 10 matches (Luis Gil & Chris Schuler). Both sides have had to juggle their lineups and rosters for a number of reasons, injuries, call ups, and form, and it has shown as both sides have been very inconsistent so far this season. Still both sides have had moments when they have been solid, New England pulled out a 0-0 at Portland last week and a 2-0 win over Philly the week before that. RSL leveled their season at 4-4-2 with their 2-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday, but are just 1-3-1 on the road with 3 goals scored and 5 allowed. Both sides will again have to make adjustments to what would be their normal starting XI due to injuries, which means that the result could come down to which side is able to capitalize on the other’s mistakes.
My Prediction – This is a match that if RSL can keep their composure, could strike late to pick up the win. New England has given up 4 of their 6 goals allowed in the final 15 minutes of matches, while RSL has scored 2 in the final 15 minutes (5 in the final 30). It will be a challenge for RSL as they have to deal with the turf at Gillette Stadium, RSL is 5-14-11 on turf (not including Rice Eccles) so it will take a double effort of getting a road result as well as finding a way to pick up a win on turf. Still in recent years RSL has dominated the Revolution, and with just a single loss in the last 3 seasons. RSL should be playing with some confidence despite the injury issues up top, given the team goals they were able to score on Saturday. I think this is a tough fought match with a 1-0 result, if RSL can duplicate the efforts of Fabian Espindola and Jonny Steele a couple weeks ago, we should see 3 hard earned road points for the Claret and Cobalt.
That’s How I See It