New England Soccer Today

Revs Host Sounders: Preview

Tomorrow night, New England will play host to Seattle Sounders FC in what is arguably the most important match of the season for the playoff implications that weigh in the balance for the Revolution.  The Revs, now on a four game losing streak, will have to rebound against the Sounders if they have any remaining hope of securing a playoff spot which is currently eight points out of reach.

The Revs will need Shalrie Joseph to be at his best on both sides of the ball if they are to get a result on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

The Sounders on the other hand are hot as of late, having gone undefeated in their last seven games.  Fortunately for the Revolution, the Sounders haven’t been consistent on the road with their 3-4-3 record.  Nevertheless this Sounders team is well rounded- so well rounded that it’s been winning without Brad Evans, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Pat Noonan, and David Estrada who all currently remain on the injury list for tomorrow night’s game.

Unlike the Sounders, the Revolution hasn’t been able to overcome its own injuries and put together consistent strings of positive results in the regular season.  The ongoing injuries to Taylor Twellman, Edgaras Jankauskas, and Zak Boggs have hurt the team’s depth and have contributed to a lackluster slew of results.

Both teams will have to find success in the players that remain.  For the Sounders, the issue as of late has been rebuilding the midfield.  With the loss of Fredrik Ljungberg and other key player absences, Seattle has resorted to aligning Michael Seamon and Osvaldo Alonso in midfield with the speedy Steve Zakuani on the left wing and new signing Alvaro Fernandez on the right.  Seattle has continued to struggle in defense this year and as of late without the injured Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, his spot being filled by Taylor Graham.  For strikers, Fredy Montero is currently ranked 3rd in the league’s goalscoring table with 10 goals.  Nate Jaqua, who scored twice on Wednesday night against Chivas USA, will work alongside Montero as a forward.

Similar to the Sounders, the Revolution has also had midfield troubles all season long.  Even with Shalrie Joseph back, the Revs are still lacking a playmaking engine in midfield to start and continue attacks.  Tomorrow night, the midfield will be hurting a little bit more than usual as Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally continue their absence from the Revolution in service to the Gambian national team.  With this development, Marco Perovic will likely take Nyassi’s spot on the wing while Zack Schilawski could start at forward alongside Ilija Stolica.  In defense, poor decisions have victimized the Revolution in the recent weeks due to foolish plays by Cory Gibbs, Darrius Barnes, and Emanuel Osei.  With Gibbs suspended due to the red card he got against Philadelphia last weekend, Osei and Barnes will likely again start at center back, while Seth Sinovic or Chris Tierney gets the start on the left.

The key for the Revs is simple: control the midfield and scare the Sounders’ defense early.  James Riley has a tendency to keep players onside while Taylor Graham hasn’t had enough playing time with Tyrone Marshall.  But to get to the defense, the Revolution will have to break through a stone wall midfield run by Osvaldo Alonso.  For this reason, the Revs need Shalrie Joseph to hold the ball and distribute to the wings.  While Fernandez and Zakuani are excellent attacking wingers for this Sounders’ team, they are more attack minded players than defensive players.  To slow down and stop the Seattle attack, the Revs will flat out need to get rid of mental lapses and foolish errors that either don’t give Matt Reis a chance to make a save, or force a senseless set piece opportunity that could have been avoided.

With regards to tactic, the Revolution need to stay in formation while being able to make runs off the ball.  Pat Phelan slows down runs when he’s in offensive midfield, so he should slot back to aid the defense as a halfback.  Chris Tierney and Marco Perovic need to provide good service to Stolica and Schilawski, who both have the capacity to score but need to get hold of the ball.

Finally, the Revolution has to go into the game playing for a win.  On Wednesday night against Monarcas Morelia, the Revs were caught on the back foot early and failed to generate enough offensively.  Tomorrow night, the Revolution need to be in control of the game 100 percent of the time and fighting for a victory in this playoff spot chase.


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