New England Soccer Today

The Warm Up: #NEvDC

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Prime the muskets and ready the tifo, the New England Revolution home opener is upon us as DC United marches into town for an Eastern Conference battle Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM.

The last time they met:

The clubs met in the knockout round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last October. Juan Agudelo scored a Vine-worthy bicycle kick early, but it wasn’t enough to carry the locals through. United prevailed in the second half to stake a 2-1 win, ending to any hopes the Revolution harbored of returning to the MLS Cup final.

During regular season play last year, a nine-man Revolution salvaged a 1-1 draw to United at Gillette Stadium on May 23 while DC claimed a 2-1 win at RFK Stadium on Jun. 21.

What to expect:

It was a tale of very different second halves for the longtime conference foes last week. In Houston, the Revolution fell behind twice before getting a last-gasp equalizer from Daigo Kobayashi to secure a dramatic 3-3 draw. On the flip side, DC United would love to forget their final 45 against LA Galaxy. After going into halftime with a one-goal lead, United surrendered four goals on their way to a crushing 4-1 loss. Lamar Neagle found the net early in the game, but couldn’t do much more after that goal. Coming back to the East coast will surely help, especially playing close to home. The biggest question mark around the Revolution is can the club find the net multiple times again and will Diego Fagundez light up the field like he did against the Dynamo?

Who to watch:

Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth allowed three goals last week against the Dynamo. Because the defense is still trying to figure out their identity, Shuttleworth must stand strong between the posts, especially against DC side that hasn’t been shy to steal points at Gillette Stadium as of late.

Similarly, United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra faced seven shots against the Galaxy, saving three and allowing four goals. Allowing that many goals can really shake a goalkeeper’s confidence, and facing another attack-minded side like the Revolution will likely find Dykstra in the cross-hairs again on Sunday.

The Revs will win if:

New England must take the game by the horns early, and be unafraid to shoot from all angles on the field. Putting the pressure on the United defense at the first whistle could lead to another early goal. Will Scott Caldwell start this weekend? If so, how much time will he see, especially with Kelyn Rowe picking up a knock. If Caldwell’s ready to go, then look for the hosts to be better organized than they were a week ago, and seize the opportunity for win no. 1 of 2016.

The Revs will lose if:

It keeps getting mentioned, but after United conceded four goals last week, watch for their offense to commit numbers forward early, trying to catch the shaky Revs defense off-guard. Neither the defense nor Shuttleworth has proven that can completely withstand an ambitious attack, even going back to the preseason. Saturday’s match could be another multi-goal affair that, if the ball happens to bounce the wrong way for the locals, could lead to another disappointing home result against DC.

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