After a disappointing two game homestand last week, the New England Revolution head out on the road for perhaps their toughest two game stretch of the season. The Revs face off against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday before taking on Real Salt Lake on July 4th. Both opponents currently sit in the top four of the MLS standings.
For the struggling Revs (3-7-6, 15 points), a trip to Seattle seems unlikely to cure the team’s road woes. The Sounders (7-4-7, 28 points) have been climbing their way up the standings after a slow start to the season and currently sit third in the Western Conference and third overall in the league standings.
The Revs are currently on a six game winless run (0-4-2) overall and an eight game winless run (0-6-2) on the road, dating back to October 10th of last year. They’ve shown improvements in their past two games, both home draws, but those matches were against two of the league’s worst this season in Chicago and Toronto.
The Revs’ defense looked strong against Toronto only to struggle with the pace of Chicago, while the offense looked improved in both games, but only managed a solitary goal. On Sunday in Seattle they’ll need to be at their sharpest on both ends of the field if they are to grab a positive result.
“We need to stick together and all be on the same page,” said midfielder Pat Phelan. “It’s a tough place to play, but if we’re cohesive and we’re all on the same page it makes it a lot easier.”
Certainly staying on the same page will be important, especially as the Revs look to overcome the vociferous home crowd at the newly renamed CenturyLink Field. The Sounders lead the league in attendance, with an average of over 36,000 per game, beating the second best team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, by over 13,000.
And those 36,000 are among the loudest in the league, making it tough for teams to communicate on the field and providing the Sounders with a fantastic home field advantage. The Revs will need a fast start to quiet the crowd and help put the visitors in the driver’s seat.
“I think over the last couple games we realized we can pass the ball, we can create some stuff, we can put the other team under pressure,” said Phelan. “So I think from the beginning of the game if we do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
Fortunately for the Revs, that passing should be aided by the return of Benny Feilhaber. The U.S. international has missed the past three weeks with an ankle injury and can add a lot of creativity to the Revs midfield should he play.
But of course a good performance will only get the team so far. The Revs desperately need points, so the end result is all that matters.
“We have to just keep doing what we’re doing,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “We’re playing well defensively. We’re creating chances offensively. We’re just not winning.”
The match kicks off at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday and can be seen live on Comcast Sportsnet New England.