New England Soccer Today

Preview: New England Revolution at Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo will look for their sixth home win of the season tomorrow night as they play host to the Revolution.  With both teams having been eliminated from the playoffs, it’s a little strange that this match will only be for pride- especially since the Dynamo and the Revolution met in two consecutive MLS Cup finals just three years ago.

But both teams have changed since the MLS Cup match in 2007.  The Revolution have had problems rebuilding their team into a playoff contender with the loss of Pat Noonan, Andy Dorman, Michael Parkhurst, Steve Ralston, and Clint Dempsey.  Houston has also had problems rebuilding after they’ve lost players like Dwayne DeRosario, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, and Brian Mullan.

So given that the playoffs are out of the question and that both these squads are lackluster since their MLS Cup days, this match doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.  However, with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season, both teams will fight for pride.

New England and Houston are almost in the same boat.  For one, New England’s injury list just keeps growing.  This week Kevin Alston and Betu Linck were added to the list in the “out” category.  They join Preston Burpo, Taylor Twellman, Zak Boggs, Nico Colaluca, and Cory Gibbs.  Houston’s injury list isn’t as deep, but its contents are heavy.  Brian Ching was added to the list this week due to a knee injury and it’s expected that he may miss the remainder of the season.  Ching is joined on the injury list by Colin Clark, Tally Hall, and Anthony Obodai.

Houston enters the match having won 5 matches at home while New England has just won once on the road.  At home, Houston has scored 22 goals while New England has only scored 9 while away.

Defensively, both teams have been equally disappointing.  New England has the worst defense in the league: 47 goals allowed this season.  Houston isn’t any better: 46 goals allowed this season.  The veteran Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad has a GAA of 1.75 while New England’s Matt Reis has a GAA of 1.79.

The Revolution have a chance to win tonight, especially since their form in their last 3 matches has been strong.  However, the keys to tomorrow night’s match will be to be disciplined, take the crowd out of the game, and control the middle.

The Revs have proven they have the ability to control a match.  The problem is they just haven’t been able to get a victory out of it.  The Revolution have struggled to close games as of late because of poor defensive discipline.  This team can’t afford anymore lapses.

Brian Ching, the symbol of Houston’s attack, is out.  The crowd has seen the team allow 46 goals.  The Revolution can put the dagger in the heart by silencing the crowd and exploiting Houston’s weaknesses and absences.

Neither of these two keys can be accomplished if New England does not control the midfield.  Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan need to move the ball around and find open space.  Getting the ball to the forwards is key: that’s how you score goals.

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