New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #DCvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Yes, Revolution and DC United supporters, it’s been 20 years (give or take a few days) since your clubs met for the first time.

Back on Apr. 27, 1996, two startup sides playing in a startup league in a sport that barely had any stature here in the States met for the very first time at Foxboro Stadium.

On that day, before a sellout crowd of 32,864, United opened the scoring with a goal from Raul Diaz Arce before the hosts countered with a penalty striker from Geoff Aunger to set up the most MLS 1.0 scenario: the shootout.

Fortunately for the Foxboro faithful, the Revolution prevailed during the glorified shooting clinic to secure their second win of the season. For those who were there: yes, that was two decades ago. For those who weren’t: we hope that unlocks a full-length broadcast on its Youtube channel soon so you can see what soccer looked like in the mid-90s (spoiler alert: lots of fluorescent colors and really, really baggy kits).

But that was then, and this is now, so let’s tackle the questions that surround the locals going into Saturday’s anniversary clash.

1. Will Jose Goncalves be ready to go? After last week’s injury list shenanigans, we now know the extent of the skipper’s injury (left knee irritation – and seriously, how difficult was it to disclose that before Orlando City?). Now, no one here is a doctor, nor has anyone here played one on TV, but based on that diagnosis, it appears that Goncalves has a 50/50 chance of playing on Saturday. Or a 60/40 chance. Or 30/70. In other words, it’s hard to tell. But with a three games on tap for the next eight days, we could see Goncalves get the nod on Saturday, sit out Wednesday vs. Portland, and return vs. Orlando City next Saturday. Or we could just see Je-Vaughn Watson again.

2. Can Lee Nguyen score from the run of play on Saturday? We’ve seen him do it plenty of times, but for some reason, the early part of the schedule hasn’t exactly provided Nguyen’s best theater over the years. Still, the fact that the Revolution’s no. 10 was able to get on the scoresheet last week – albeit via the penalty – should boost his confidence going into Saturday. We saw Nguyen come oh-so-close against DC a few weeks ago; with goal no. 1 already on the ledger, look for the creative midfielder to, at the very least, threaten Travis Worra’s net once again.  A net that wasn’t kind to Nguyen five weeks ago, mind you.

3. Who’ll start up top? If it seems like this question has become repetitive it’s because it is. When Charlie Davies got hurt, we saw Teal Bunbury assume the striker’s role. The following week, it was Juan Agudelo. Since then, it’s been back to Bunbury, even though Davies appears to be close enough to health to reclaim his spot. At this point, perhaps the better question is who won’t start up top. Our answer, which is given with full confidence: everyone but Bunbury and Davies. And by everyone, we also mean Pepe Moreno, Milton Caraglio, and Stephen Assengue.

4. Are we in store for more refereeing bloopers? Nothing we see this week could possibly top the ending of last week’s match at Orlando City. And leave it Baldomero Toledo to be right in the center of it. This week, we’ll have Alan Kelly as the man in the middle, so that assignment should prevent a repeat of last week’s circus from occurring. Then again, Kelly’s last MLS match – a 2-2 draw between San Jose and Dallas back on Apr. 9 – featured five cautions and a penalty, so the potential is there for another week of bitter post-game comments on the guys in yellow. Either way, here’s hoping that we don’t encounter any more unexpected adventures in officiating on Saturday.

5. What are the chances we see another 0-0 scoreline? Not likely. Although Ben Olsen won’t be on the sideline due to suspension, you can bet assistant Chad Ashton won’t be employing a gameplan that involves a bus and how many guys it takes to park it. With part two of the DC-NE rivalry taking place in the nation’s capital, the Black and Red will be looking to open things up, and play a decidedly different brand of football than whatever it was they were playing during week 2. On the other side of the pitch, the Revolution recently reminded us that, yes, they can score more than one goal a game. So with two sides eager to get on the antique scoreboard at RFK Stadium, look for more goals than we saw during their first encounter.

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