New England Soccer Today

Quakes next for wayward Revs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With their postseason hopes officially over, the New England Revolution’s final three games won’t be just about finishing the season with pride. The final three weeks of the season are expected to be a trial period for players, especially with so much overhaul expected after a lackluster campaign. The task of impressing management and coaches starts Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Revs will need Benny Feilhaber to orchestrate the offense from the midfield on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

In a season where not much has gone right for the Revolution, it’s difficult to name them as favorites going into Saturday’s match. But the fact that the Revolution are playing at Gillette Stadium and are facing a struggling Earthquakes team that has also been eliminated from the playoffs suggests that this could be a chance for a rare win for the home team.

Nevertheless, both teams are in eerily familiar states to close out the season.  Both the Revolution and San Jose are entering tomorrow’s match without key players. Most of the Earthquakes’ attacking players are out injured, most notably Andre Luiz (knee), Ike Opara (foot), Alan Gordon (surgery), and Scott Sealy (quadriceps)- all of whom have had success against the Revolution in the past. Meanwhile, the Revolution have mostly defensive absences.

Bobby Shuttleworth will fill in for Matt Reis (hamstring) in goal while Franco Coria and Ryan Cochrane are expected to pair together at center back due to an ankle injury to AJ Soares. Soares’ absence is particularly poignant, especially since he has been holding the defense together for much of the season. That, and the fact that Chris Wondolowski is in town.

Wondolowski is without a doubt San Jose’s most formidable offensive force. Last year’s scoring leader and an upcoming face for the U.S. National Team, Wondolowski has spearheaded the San Jose attack for the last two seasons. He has a reputation of punishing defenses for mistakes and fighting through packs of players to convert goals. Wondolowski could be a nightmare for the Revolution defense, especially since they have made defensive errors a routine throughout the past two months.

But while consistency and communication have been big issues for the Revolution’s defense recently, the team does have leadership in midfield, which is perhaps its greatest asset. Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph will need to establish themselves early and help create chances. Players surrounding Joseph and Feilhaber in midfield are very much on the bubble in terms of returning next season- and will need a good performance tonight to prove that they belong. Ryan Guy has looked reasonably solid on the wing and will only strengthen his right to stay with another steady performance on the flank.

It could be an attainable win for the Revolution if they keep the ball moving in midfield, finish their chances, and avoid foolish defensive errors. Milton Caraglio and Diego Fagundez have the class needed as forwards, so it will be up to the midfield to keep possession and create chances. As the Revolution have learned many times this season, no lead is ever safe if the team doesn’t play smart defense.

Ultimately, a win doesn’t do much for the Revolution at this point. Another loss or tie may dissapoint fans, but it will solidify the team’s chances of getting a good draft pick in the first round of the SuperDraft. The main theme of tonight’s game and those that remain should be getting players to play their best to prove that they belong.

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