New England Soccer Today

Texas Tough

The New England Revolution may have braved the tornado, but playing FC Dallas is a different challenge altogether. Picking up momentum after winning two consecutive games, the Revolution (2-2-0, 6 points) have an opportunity to collect their third win of the season against Dallas (1-2-1, 4 points) on Thursday night.

The two teams last met in September of last year when the Revolution defeated Dallas 2-0 at Gillette Stadium. But much has changed since then. Last September, Dallas was the team to beat while the Revolution were in lackluster form. Now, the tables have turned as Dallas have had an inconsistent start and the Revolution have won two straight matches.

Still, Dallas are a threatening team that the Revolution aren’t looking to underestimate, despite the promising performance in last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy. Though the Galaxy win is now in the past, Revolution players will need to go back and find the same intensity that led them to victory and bring it to the field against Dallas.

While Benny Feilhaber remains out for the Revolution due to a peroneal strain, Coach Jay Heaps can take comfort in the fact that his midfield is beginning to click. Shalrie Joseph was able to return to his natural, central midfield role against Los Angeles and establish a partnership with Clyde Simms, while wingers Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen successfully showcased their creativity and class.

Against Dallas, the midfield’s recently strong performance, coupled with the Revolution’s recently found ability to finish their chances ought to give the hosts a difficult time.

Though Jay Heaps has preached a possession-oriented, offensive style, the Revolution still aren’t a dominant team while on the ball. Against the Galaxy, the Revolution’s time of possession finished at 45.5%. But the Revolution have earned positive results in their last two games by being able to finish off chances.

The goal on Thursday night should be no different: put the ball in the net.

Meanwhile, Dallas will be looking to rebound after a 4-1 loss to D.C. United last week. Dallas has been inconsistent to start the season, though they have not lost to the Revolution at home in their last four tries.

Nevertheless, Dallas is coping with injuries to 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira, an attacking midfield, and defender George John, which leaves big holes for the hosts to fill and for the Revolution to exploit. Additionally, captain and center back Daniel Hernandez is unavailable due to suspension. While the fill-in for Hernandez and John is up in the air, Dallas have been able to retain their offensive power through Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo.

Perez is a tall, experienced target striker who has scored twice for Dallas already while Castillo is a young, fast-paced striker who will look to run at the Revolution’s backline. Both could present a challenge to the defense, which will be without Kevin Alston (hamstring), whose speed usually helps contain skillful forwards.

The Revolution may have confidence after winning two consecutive games, something they failed to do last year, but Dallas is still a dangerous opponent. The Revolution can’t give away anything cheaply, or Dallas’ well-rounded and hungry players such as Perez, Castillo, and Brek Shea will make them pay.

Thursday night’s match kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on alternative Comcast Sports New England channels. Fans can also follow here on our live blog starting at 8:15 p.m.

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