New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution vs. D.C. United

Stephen McCarthy keeps a close eye on D.C.'s Andy Najar during last year's 2-1 home win vs. D.C. on Mar. 26, 2011. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

Six weeks into the season, the Revolution finally host its first conference clash on Saturday with D.C. United in town.

Only a single point separates the long-time rivals, and with the unbalanced schedule placing a greater emphasis on conference games, rest assured that neither team will be lacking motivation come the opening whistle.

Here are five questions to consider before the fifth-place Revs face off against sixth-place D.C. Saturday afternoon.

1. How will the Revs rebound from last week’s gut-wrenching loss to Dallas? Last Thursday’s stoppage time loss evoked painful memories of last season’s last-gasp losses and draws.  But what’s done is done. Saturday’s match presents an opportunity to show what this team is really made of. Expect the Revs to employ a gameplan similar to the one seen against Portland. Limit space along the edges, cancel out the biggest threat, and play as if the Dallas loss never happened. Oh, and a goal in the first minute probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

2. Can a midfield without Shalrie Joseph contain Dwayne DeRosario? You have to think the soccer gods were looking the other way when the league suspended Joseph for the Revs’ first clash with DeRosario on the field. A matchup of midfield titans? Maybe next time. This time, however, the Revolution will need Clyde Simms – who’s been a revelation at defensive midfielder so far – to lessen the impact  of the longtime Revs killer. But even though Simms may have a little extra insight on how to defend DeRosario, he can’t do it alone. Kelyn Rowe, A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy are all going to have to kick it up a notch to keep the reigning MVP from wreaking havoc.

3. Will Jose Moreno be a factor? We got our first glimpse of Jose Moreno last week, and even though he came on as a 79th minute sub, the preview was promising. Should the first 45 go by without a goal, don’t be surprised to see the big man get a longer look. With a cannon of shot an obvious knack for holding the ball inside the area, the Revolution are definitely going to need the presence Moreno brings against a D.C. defense that’s only allowed one goal in its last three games.  The Revs are going to need all the firepower they can muster if they want to clinch that coveted six-point swing.  Moreno has the ability to be a game-changer. Now all he has to do is showcase it against D.C.

4. Can the Revs exploit a D.C. defense that won’t have Emiliano Dudar at its disposal? One of the biggest reasons why the D.C. defense has been shutdown in the last three weeks is the exceptional play of the imposing (6-4, 198 lbs.) Argentinian center back.  But with a hamstring strain keeping him off the field this week, the Revs can’t hesitate to punch the D.C. defense right in the teeth. So you know that means: Saer Sene, Kelyn Rowe and, if called upon, Moreno have to be ruthless going toward the 18. There’s no question the Revs have the players to do it. It’s just a matter of getting them all on the same page.

5. Besides Clyde Simms, which Revolution player has to step up? It has to be Kelyn Rowe. Should he slide into Joseph’s central role, he’ll have to do a lot more than make passes and attack. Much more. With DeRosario eyeing the New England net in search of his first goal, the rookie will also  be counted upon to chip in defensively. Athough Simms will be called upon to shadow his ex-teammate, Rowe cannot be afraid to mix it up with one of the league’s most potent playmakers. As if that wasn’t a tall enough task, Rowe has to keep the attack sharp without Joseph on the field to strike the match. In short, he’ll have to do his best impression of the skipper from start to finish.

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