New England Soccer Today

A Tougher Foe

The New England Revolution’s match on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium against the New York Red Bulls is a critical one due to the tightness of the Eastern Conference standings. With just about three months of regular season soccer left to play, the Revolution have lots to do to move into — and hold on to — a playoff spot. But a win on Sunday would be another step in the right direction for the Revolution, who are five points out of playoff contention behind Houston and Columbus.

A.J. Soares and the Revolution backline will need to avoid the costly errors of the past two games when they face New York on Sunday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Third-place New York (9-4-4, 31 points) has had the seventh-place Revolution’s (5-7-4, 19 points) number in recent meetings. In addition to the 1-0 loss suffered at Red Bull Arena in May, the Revolution haven’t won against New York since 2010. And while the Revolution are riding a modest four game unbeaten streak (1-0-3) into Sunday’s game, their performances as of late have been wildly inconsistent.

The Revolution have been able to recover from mental lapses and defensive errors in their last two games to earn draws on last-second goals. But against New York’s higher pedigree of players, recovering won’t be as easy.

The focus going into Sunday’s game will be about putting forward a complete, 90 minute performance that is mental lapse and error free. Not keeping pressure on the flanks has harmed the Revolution in recent weeks, with all four of their most recent goals coming off of either a lack of a player closing in on someone crossing the ball or off a gaffe at the edge of the penalty area.

New York’s Thierry Henry is the easy favorite to finish off chances or punish the Revolution for a lapse. But in his two years in MLS, Henry has not once played at Gillette Stadium due to injury. The Revolution are aware that Henry, who scored the lone goal in the 1-0 decision earlier this year, is available for selection. But the Revolution will also have to keep in mind that Henry’s partner at forward, Kenny Cooper, as well as the entire Red Bulls’ midfield engine, are dangerous adversaries.

The Revolution have lost just once Gillette Stadium this year, but they will need to control the midfield against the Red Bulls if they want to win. Not only will controlling the midfield help create chances and force the Red Bulls to come out of their shell, but it will also create a certain comfort on the ball that should reduce the kind of mistakes that have cost the Revolution recently.

The play speaks for itself, as it has all season: the Revolution have been competitive in all their matches this season; but when they are in control of possession for most of the game, they play attractive, offensive soccer that wins them games.

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