New England Soccer Today

Revolution vs Chivas: Preview

The Revolution continue their playoff chase tonight against Chivas USA with New England eight points out of the final playoff spot.  With just seven games remaining after tonight’s duel in Los Angeles, this is another must win for the Revolution.

Similarly, Chivas USA will have the like-minded motivations, as they also face an uphill battle for the final playoff spot.  Under the circumstances, the Home Depot Center will be an even more hostile environment for the Revolution, who have only won once against Chivas USA away from home.  Adding to their ails, New England have been shutout in their last three outings at the HDC- twice by Los Angeles and once by Chivas USA.

Tonight, the Revolution will also be without the services of Marko Perovic, who is forced to miss tonight’s game after accumulating too many yellow cards.  Despite losing Perovic, the Revolution will regain the contributions of Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally after their successful African Cup of Nations Qualifier earlier this week in Gambia.

Zack Schilawski or Kheli Dube could be asked to replace Marko Perovic up top. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

In the Revolution’s only win against Chivas USA at the HDC in 2008, Mansally scored and will be available to feature alongside Ilija Stolica as a forward tonight.

Chivas USA may lack some of their talent as well, with Jonathan Bornstein, Giancarlo Maldonado, and Blair Gavin listed as “questionable” on the injury report.  The Revolution will hope that Chivas USA remain without the contributions of Bornstein, a national team defender, especially since the Goats have allowed six goals since he was subbed out against the Sounders at halftime two weeks ago.

This is the second meeting this season against Chivas USA for the Revolution, the first of which was on May 5th when Chivas USA pounded New England 4-0 at Gillette Stadium.  The result was the Revolution’s worst home performance since their move to Gillette Stadium in 2002, which could give New England extra motivation to right old wrongs.

Even so, the circumstances that existed back in May for both the Revolution and Chivas USA are very different.  For one, the Revolution were without Matt Reis, Emanuel Osei, and Shalrie Joseph.

On the other hand, Chivas USA still had the services of Sacha Kljestan, who has since left the team to join Anderlecht in Belgium.  In addition, Gavin scored a goal while Bornstein helped the Chivas USA defense preserve a shutout on May 29.  Tonight, both Gavin and Bornstein might not even touch the field due to their injuries.

The keys for the Revolution are to keep the ball moving in midfield, use the wings, and serve the forwards the ball as much as possible.  The HDC is famous for its wide pitch, which should allow Nyassi and Chris Tierney plenty of real estate to serve the ball and run up and down the wings.

Additionally, Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan will need to see eye to eye in midfield and open up space for whatever offensive combination Steve Nicol puts out in the starting lineup.  If the ball is to stay moving in midfield, Joseph and Phelan will also need to help the defense in dealing with offensive pressure.

Finally, the Revolution needs to quiet down Marcelo Saragosa and force saves out of Zack Thornton.  Saragosa is Chivas USA’s engine in midfield, and has the capability to open up space and fire blazing shots from long distance.  Thornton is the defensive leader of the team as goalkeeper, and has the most experience in defense than anyone on the team.

Mathematical Favor?

The Revolution can continue to close the gap between them and the final playoff spot with a win tonight.  So far, in the home stretch of the season, the Revolution have been gifted by other league results that have kept the final playoff spot within sights.

On Wednesday night, Chicago and Toronto tied 0-0, which gives the Revolution an easier time to leapfrog Eastern Conference teams.  The Revs also have a game in hand on Toronto going into the game, so a win tonight would put them just one point behind the Canadian club (Toronto has an additional game where they can widen the gap Saturday night).

Chicago similarly have a game in hand on the Revolution, but are just two points ahead.

Last night, Seattle and Real Salt Lake tied 0-0, pushing RSL to first place in the playoff standings on goal differential while Seattle is in the playoffs by just five points.  Going into tonight’s game, the Revolution have two games in hand on the Sounders.

In an ideal scenario, the following results this weekend would surely benefit the Revolution: NE defeats Chivas, Colorado and NY draw, DC defeats or draws Toronto, Philadelphia defeats or ties Chicago, Dallas defeats San Jose, Los Angeles defeats Columbus.

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