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10 things on New England Revolution

It’s cliché season for the Montreal Impact. Six-point games will come every week and until the end of the campaign. The team will need to win many of these and give its 110% in each of those mini finals to reach the MLS Cup playoffs. The next episode is this Saturday at 7:30pm against New England Revolution, for whom the motivation will come from within: the Bostonians can still aim for the post-season tournament. Here are 10 things on Jay Heaps’ squad.

Context

A convincing 4-0 win at home, albeit against the poor Lions of Orlando City SC – who saw their centre-back Aja sent off with the score at 2-0 – was welcomed by the Revs support after two unproductive trips, which are a summary of New England’s travels this season. But at home, it’s a different story, as four wins in a row at Gillette Stadium can testify. If their hopes of making the playoffs are very slim, this game against the Impact is an opportunity they cannot miss.

Current form

W-L-L-W-L-W

Head coach

Jay Heaps (74-79-43 all-time as New England Revolution head coach) became Revs head coach on November 15, 2011. An elite player in the college ranks in the 1990s, Heaps was the Miami Fusion’s first pick (second overall) in the 1999 MLS College Draft. Named Rookie of the Year after his first season, Heaps was then traded to the New England Revolution, his hometown club, in June 2001. Heaps became one of the top MLS defenders but never could translate his individual prowess into collective glory as he was part of the cursed generation that reached four MLS Cups in six years but was unable to win the trophy. Heaps and the Revs did win silverware, though, lifting the U.S. Open Cup in 2007 and the short-lived SuperLiga in 2008. He retired at the end of the 2009 season with several club records to his name. Inducted into the New England Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011, Heaps then took charge of the Revolution with a view on making it a thrilling, ball-playing team.

Current top scorer

Kei Kamara (11)

Players to watch

1. Lee Nguyen (#24) – Creator in chief, the Texan leads the Revs with 14 assists in 2017. Even though he usually starts on the left, he has a free role in his team’s attack.

2. Claude Dielna (#44) – The Frenchman has joined the Revs on July 28 from Sheffield Wednesday. He started the last three games at the heart of a defensive unit that has given one goal per game on average during this period.

3. Teal Bunbury (#10) – Three goals in four games, but mostly 14 shots in this run, show his capacity to create danger. He can also dribble on the wings and cross decently for Kamara.

Team profile

The Revolution wants to take the game to the opposition and has what it takes: full backs that contribute, central mids that provide options, a handful of attacking midfielders whose heads and legs are quick, and a forward that weighs on the backline and can connect on crosses. Tierney, Bunbury, Fagundez and Rowe can float in good balls for Kamara – and the Revolution can be dangerous by switching the point of attack, particularly from left to right. Down the middle, Kamara’s presence can create space for his colleagues to change the pace of an attacking sequence and play the ball in behind, but the Revs mostly use this feature to then play the ball wide. With a rather high block, defensive transitions can be a problem, and the Revolution can struggle with fast play and with crosses played close to the goal, especially from the right. If the opponent let the Revs reorganize, however, the Revs can soak up pressure with two banks of four and Agudelo or Nguyen and Kamara leading the pressing but not over-committing.

In 2017:

Shots on target*

Goals scored from inside the penalty area

Goals scored from outside the penalty area

Goals scored on headers

7th (126)

4th (42)

22nd (1)

2nd (12)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Duels won (%)

18th (45.5%)

8th (54.7%)

6th (66.9%)

3rd (51.2%)

*Source for all data is Opta

Tactical formation

With Kei Kamara, New England lines up in a 4-2-3-1, but the attacking midfield trio switches around a lot, and Agudelo is almost a second striker. Lineup against Orlando City SC (September 2): Cropper; Tierney, Dielna, Angoua, Farrell; Caldwell, Koffie; Nguyen, Agudelo, Bunbury; Kamara.

Last game against the Impact

The Impact’s latest trip to the home of the Revs and the Pats was a tricky one: managing the squad was essential, as the Bleu-blanc-noir was already qualified for the playoffs. With a knockout game to come midweek and a possible Eastern Conference semi-final first leg the following weekend, Mauro Biello rotated the lineup; if the team lost that particular game, it went to the Eastern Conference final.

Injuries, absences and call-ups (as of September 6)

M Kelyn Rowe (knee)
M Diego Fagundez (thigh – day-to-day)

Upcoming games

Atlanta United FC v New England Revolution (MLS, September 13)
Sporting Kansas City v New England Revolution (MLS, September 16)
New England Revolution v Toronto FC (MLS, September 23)

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