New England Soccer Today

The Warm Up: #NEvMIN

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Who: Revolution (0-2-0, 0 points) vs. Minnesota United FC (0-2-1, 1 point)
What: Week 4 of the MLS regular season
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
When: Saturday, Mar. 25 at 2:00pm ET
Watch: CSN New England, MLS Live, Direct Kick
Whistle: Ricardo Salazar – Head Referee; Oscar Mithcell-Carvalho/Claudiu Badea – Assistant Referees; Robert Sibiga – 4th Referee.

Scouting the Opposition:

–Minnesota United have been in the MLS for only three weeks and they’ve already gotten a reputation for employing shoddy defense, to put it kindly. They’ve conceded a total of 13 goals in their first three games, including 11 goals in their first two.

-The injury bug has also hit the Loons, and it is possible they will not have a healthy 18 players for the match. The injury list is headlined by starting goalkeeper John Alvbage, who suffered a knee laceration two weeks ago. Former Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth will likely get his second consecutive start with his new squad.

-Don’t sleep on Minnesota’s offense, however: The squad is led by forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Kevin Molino. Ramirez scored his first two career MLS goals last week against Colorado, while Molino, who scored 11 goals and notched eight assists with Orlando last year, already has two goals of his own.

–Minnesota will likely display a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Ramirez as the lone striker up top and Molino playing on the right. MLS journeyman Collen Warner is also likely to play a major role in the match, as he has played all three games as starting defensive midfielder for the Loons.

–The Loons’ bench has some interesting names that may appear this weekend, including former U.S. Men’s National Team call-up Miguel Ibarra and 2017 #1 SuperDraft pick Abu Danladi. Ibarra has made two appearances and one start at left midfield, while Danladi has a single substitute appearance for 21 minutes. Neither player has made a strong impact on the 2017 season.

-Kei Kamara on Minnesota: “That’s the thing about the league, you can say some teams are really good teams in this league, but there are points to be grabbed every week. We can’t underestimate Minnesota because of their first two games of the season. We look at their last game against Colorado, [in] which they put up two goals. We went to Colorado, we didn’t come out of there with a point, but they came out of there with a point, so we have to respect them coming in. At the same point, we have to make sure they know what kind of team we are.”

Recent History:

-This is the first match between Minnesota United FC and the New England Revolution, though the teams did play to a 1-1 draw in preseason action.

Three Things to Know:

1) Saturday marks the return of long time goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who made 124 starts and completed 34 clean sheets with the club over eight seasons. Shuttleworth was the primary goalkeeper from 2013-2016, and started the 2014 MLS Cup for the Revolution. He was traded to Minnesota in February for Femi-Hollinger-Janzen.

2) If the referee’s name – Ricardo Salazar- sounds familiar, you may remember it from last season’s NYCFC-Revolution match, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Midfielder Gershon Koffie was given a red card by Salazar, prompting coach Jay Heaps to say the following in his post-game presser: “I disagree wholeheartedly with the fact that it was a red card, adamantly, adamantly disagree that that was a red card from Ricardo Salazar but in the end we have to keep 11 guys on the field and quite frankly, need the referees to keep the red cards in their pocket.” Salazar did referee another Revolution game after those comments: A 1-0 loss to NY Red Bulls, which ended with no apparent controversy.

3) ….Or maybe Salazar’s name is familiar to you because you’re one of the thousands of Sounders fan who signed the petition asking to U.S. Soccer to formally evaluate and re-train Salazar. Salazar and the Sounders have had a history dating back to 2009, and peaking when Salazar officiated the 2012 U.S. Open Cup Final, where he handed out six yellow cards in the match, all of which were issued to the Sounders.

Score prediction: The pressure is on the Revolution, who are the only team in MLS without a point. The Loons are still in the process of figuring out their defense and team chemistry. While Revolution offense has been non-existent with one goal from a penalty kick in the first two games, the reasoning for that has simply been that they’ve adopted a defensive approach where they’ve tried – and failed – playing for the draw and taking a point on the road. This weekend will be different, however, and you can expect the Revolution to be pushing for goals. Tactically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Xavier Kouassi, who started last week in Dallas and has yet to complete a full 90 minutes, start on the bench while Jay Heaps could opt for Kelyn Rowe or Teal Bunbury on the attack as both could provide better offensive options. Minnesota has some weapons and I don’t doubt their ability to get on the board, but the Revolution should finally be able to unleash their offense on a weak opponent at Gillette Stadium, where they’re usually at their best. 4-1 win for the Revolution this weekend.

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