New England Soccer Today

The Warm Up: #CLBvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

Who: Revolution (2-3-4, 10 points) vs. Columbus Crew SC (4-4-1, 13 points)
What: Week 10 of the MLS regular season
Where: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
When: Saturday, May 6th at 2:00pm ET
Watch: CSN New England, MLS Live, Direct Kick
Whistle: Referee – Mark Geiger; Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski/Felisha Mariscal; 4th Official – Fotis Bazakos

Scouting the Opposition:

–Columbus Crew SC ended 2016 out of the playoff picture, but have started the 2017 campaign as contenders, holding a 4-4-1 record, good enough for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Crew SC sits five points behind Conference-leading Orlando City and three points ahead of the Revolution.

-Crew SC have held strong with home field advantage with a 3-1-1 record to counter their 1-3-0 record on the road. Columbus was undefeated at home until last week, when NYC FC took a 3-2 victory over Columbus.

-Columbus have started 8 out of 9 matches in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their lone forward is Norwegian striker Ola Kamara, who replaced former Crew player and current Revolution player Kei Kamara when Kei was traded to New England last season. Ola has started every game for Crew SC, rewarding the squad with 5 goals.

-The attack is also aided by playmakers Justin Meram and Federico Higuain. The veteran attacking midfielders provide a pair of offensive-minded players who can score or feed assists to their teammates. Both players have two assists in 2019, with Meram scoring four goals and Higuain tallying a pair.

-Along the right wing, Ethan Finlay provides another nightmare matchup for opposing defenders. Finlay has only one assist and one goal in nine appearances (six starts) this season, but is another playmaker that can change the game.

-Another Norwegian, Nicolai Naess, is a key defender who stabilizes the backline for Crew SC. Naess has started every game for Columbus at center back. In the defensive midfield, Wil Trapp, who has two caps with the United States National Team, will provide cover in the center of the field.

-Manning the posts for Crew SC will likely be Zack Steffen, who is in his first season as a starter in the MLS. Steffan spent last year as the Crew’s backup, making nine appearances. The former Maryland Terrapin has two shutouts so far in 2017.

Recent History:

-Saturday’s match will be the 69th meeting all-time between the squads, with Crew SC winning 34 matches. The Revs have won 22 games, and the remaining 12 games have ended in a draw.

-The Revolution’s record in Columbus is equally ugly. New England is 8 wins, 19 losses, and 6 draws when visiting the Crew. However, the Revolution’s last win in Columbus was memorable: A 4-2 win in the first leg of the 2014 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

-Columbus was the victor in two of the three matches between Eastern Conference foes in 2016. New England took the first match, a 3-1 win at home on July 9th, before dropping a pair of 2-0 results on August 20th at Gillette and September 25th in Columbus.

3 Things to Know:

1) Kei Kamara will reportedly miss his second straight match as he and his wife await the birth of their second child. In 2016, Kamara scored in every game he played in Columbus, with the exception of his lone appearance with the Revolution. Kamara did score in his first game against his former team at Gillette Stadium.

2) Referee Mark Geiger officiated one of the three Columbus-New England matchups last season. The two-time MLS referee of the year had the whistle to the only Revolution win against Columbus in 2016, a 3-1 triumph at Gillette Stadium.

3) Lee Nguyen is one assist from tying Chris Tierney (36) for second-most assists in Revolution history, while passing Joe-Max Moore (35) in the process. Tierney and Nguyen have a long way to go, however, before coming close to Steve Ralston’s team record of 73 assists.

Score prediction: After a nightmare conclusion in Seattle, how the Revolution respond this Saturday will speak to the fire in this team. Crew SC are not an easy squad to play on the road and there are some mismatches through the field. The Revolution have many decisions to make in terms of how they want to matchup. Crew SC are excellent at attacking the wings, looking for the head of Ola Kamara. Considering this, will Jay Heaps start Je-Vaughn Watson over Kelyn Rowe, to provide a stronger defensive side? Or does he keep Rowe in his new left-back position, where he’s held his own? Ultimately, I think the Revolution keep it simple with minimal changes and will look to hit on the counter-attack. New England has the pieces to create chances on the counter and while I think Crew SC will display some offense, the Revs will be able to go toe-to-toe in Columbus. 2-2 Draw.

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