New England Soccer Today

Looking for a Breakthrough

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

A chance to improve their form in front of frame awaits the Revolution in their second Desert Diamond Cup clash, which will pit them against the Colorado Rapids at Kino North Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

The Revolution are coming off of back-to-back matches in which they were kept off the board, the latest a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. The Rapids are coming off a 2-2 draw to Sporting Kansas City in their Desert Diamond Cup opener.

Saturday’s match will kick off at 7:30pm ET, and will be streamed live via

Here’s what to watch for as the Revolution attempt to strengthen their form and get back on the board:

1. The lineup. On Wednesday, the Jay Heaps went with a slew of reserves and rookies for his starting XI, anticipating that Salt Lake would wait until the second half to use its starters (which it did). With another opponent who another who adopted the same approach in their last match on tap, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another lineup that looks similar to the one used on Wednesday. The only slight tweak Heaps may be tempted to make is at right back, where he may wait until the second half to use Jeremy Hall in order to get him more minutes with the rest of the first-choice back four.

2. How many minutes does Diego Fagundez get? It was impressive to see the 20-year-old perform well on Wednesday after only one training session under his belt. He combined with Juan Agudelo, a player who helped bring the best out of Fagundez in 2013, and overall, showed confidence on the dribble in his 45 minutes. And he did in a central role, a spot where Fagundez hasn’t typically been at his best at the club level. With only three days rest, the question is whether Heaps lets Fagundez get a longer run on Saturday, or whether he scales back the minutes in order not to burn him out too quickly.

3. Who needs to step up? Sean Okoli. The sophomore striker didn’t perform poorly on Wednesday, to be sure. He looked involved early on and collaborated with teammates on a number of advances. But in order to make himself a candidate for the 18 come Mar. 8, he’ll have to do much better in front of frame. While finishing wasn’t the Revolution’s forte against Salt Lake, one player who has to separate himself in that regard is Okoli, who’s already facing stiff competition for minutes from Charlie Davies and Juan Agudelo. Saturday’s match won’t be make-or-break, mind you. But a stronger showing will only make it more difficult for the coaching staff to keep him off the field.

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