New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Rapids

Will Jerry Bengtson return to action after not playing in two straight games? (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Will Jerry Bengtson return to action after not playing in two straight games? (Photo: Kari Heistad/

It’s funny how much difference a year can make.
In this case, it’s about 14 months, but when the Revolution meet the Rapids tonight for their lone match of the regular season, it’s going to be a lot different than the last time they saw each other.

With the way the MLS schedule works now, Eastern and Western conference teams meet just once a year with the home team rotating each time, which means each time you see play a non-conference game, it’s like there will be changes from the last season.

In last year’s 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium, the Revs broke an eight-game winless streak against the Rapids. Four starters from the game for New England – Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph, Fernando Cardenas, and Jose Moreno – are no longer with the club. And remember the last time you saw Bjorn Runstrom play for New England? That was the last time New England played Colorado. For the Rapids, they’ve seen the likes of Omar Cummings and Jeff Larentowicz leave.

Now, the Revolution will try to break an even longer streak, going for their first win over Colorado on the road since 2002 – over a decade ago. Both teams sit in sixth place in their respective conferences and will be looking to gain ground in the playoff race.

1. What changes will be made to New England’s 18?
After fielding the same 18 players for the past two games, a change is going to have to be made due to Dimitry Imbongo’s suspension he received after seeing a red card against Houston. Pair that with a quick turn around from this past Saturday and another quick one with a game in Columbus this coming Saturday, its likely we’ll see some different faces. The big question is who replaces Imbongo’s striker spot? The easy answer is Designated Player Jerry Bengtson. Bengtson failed to dress for the past two games after going 83 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Chivas. It’s likely that the 18 players you see tonight aren’t the same as Saturday, and don’t be surprised if names like Andy Dorman or Kalifa Cisse pop up.

2. Will Kevin Alston make his return?
The best news of the week came when the Revolution activated defender Kevin Alston off the disabled list after the defender underwent treatment for leukemia. Before he went on the DL for his treatment, Alston had started the first four games of the season at left back for New England. Now, with two games in the next four days – and with the Revolution having just played Saturday – it’s not a stretch to think Alston could get a start either tonight or Saturday. He began training again earlier this month and adds another piece to an already strong New England defense.

3. How will New England respond after their loss against Houston?
For those who like to look at stats and records, here’s a good one from Revs fans: New England s 1-0-4 after losses so far this season. How is that good? The big 0 in the loss category is huge, especially when you’re going on the road in search of points. The Revolution have yet to lose twice in a row this season and have taken a point from all five games so far. Though they haven’t won as many as they’d like – the only time coming in a 2-0 win over Philly after a 4-1 loss to New York – their defense has been solid coming off each loss. In five games after losing, the Revs defense has conceded just two goals while netting four. Though the goal is always three points, if history repeats itself tonight, the Revs will surely take one.

4. Will either team’s goal leader find the back of the net?
It’s hard to believe that the last time Diego Fagundez scored was back on June 2nd. He’s picked up two assists since – which should be three, but he wasn’t credited for one on Sene’s goal against Houston – but hasn’t found the back of the net in five straight games with just three shots on goal. Are defenses keying in on him more? Maybe. But Fagundez has continued to adapt to defensive pressure and tonight could be the night he breaks back through. For Colorado, Atiba Harris and rookie Deshorn Brown are tied for the Rapids with five goals apiece. It was Harris in late May and early June that was key for Colorado up top but more recently its been the quick rookie Brown, who has three goals in his last five games – two of them coming in appearances off the bench.

5. Will goals be harder or easier to come by for New England tonight?
Not because of the altitude either, but because of the goalkeeper battle set to start in Colorado? This isn’t to say that Clint Irwin is going to try any harder now, but with original starter Matt Pickens back in the fold, things could get interesting. We could see Irwin – who trained with the Revolution back in the 2011 preseason – play incredible because of the pressure of having Pickens back, and maybe an extra chip on his shoulder playing a team who didn’t take him. Or could there be nerves for the 24-year-old – who could see his starting spot taken away from him – allowing rebounds or second guessing himself.

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