New England Soccer Today

Preview: New England Revolution at FC Dallas

With the playoffs now 12 points out of reach, each of the remaining six games for the New England Revolution are must wins.  Unfortunately, the Revs’ task will be easier said than done given that their next match is against FC Dallas tonight.

FCD has been hot essentially all season long, with a record of 10-2-12.  At home, where they will host the Revolution tonight, Dallas is 7-1-4 with 18 goals scored and only 9 against.  Meanwhile, the Revolution have a 1-10-1 record on the road and have only scored 7 times away from Gillette Stadium this season.  The Revs also have the league’s worst defense, having allowed 41 goals in 24 games.

The Revs will need a better performance from Ilija Stolica if they are to get a positive result tonight. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Dallas’ hottest player is midfielder David Ferreira, who has scored six goals and has tallied 9 assists this season.  US National Team forward Jeff Cunningham leads FCD in scoring with 8 goals, in front of Ferreira (6), Brek Shea (5), Atiba Harris (3), and Eric Alexander (2).

The only good news on paper for New England is that Dallas has a laundry list of players that will be absent from tonight’s matchup.  Among the players, Brek Shea will sit out after being sent-off in a contest last week against the New York Red Bulls.  Former New England Revolution player Daniel Hernandez, who has anchored Dallas’ midfield all season, will be on the bench tomorrow night because of a hamstring injury.  In addition, Kevin Hartman, who has the league’s best goals against average (0.62 with 9 shutouts), will be out with a strained MCL.

The Revolution should be in reasonably good form – on the injury report, at least – for the trip.  Jason Griffiths appeared in Saturday night’s match against Colorado and is available for selection after being injured since mid-July. Only Edgaras Jankauskas and Zak Boggs, both of whom have played sparingly this season, remain on the active injury list.

Even without Shea, Hartman, and Hernandez, Dallas has a deeper roster than the Revolution.  Tonight’s game will be a tough contest for the Revs, mainly because they have had difficulty generating any real offense in the recent weeks.

The keys for the Revolution are simple: experiment with the on-pitch personnel, but get conservative in back.

Experiment in the sense that since the post season chances are nearly non-existent, it’s time to move players around to see what combinations work.

Play conservative in the sense that the defense needs to hold strong and not give away any foolish chances.  The midfield also needs to start playing well, keeping the ball moving in and out of space so that forwards can actually get a few chances at goal.

A win tonight certainly helps the Revolution to keep their post season dreams alive, however foggy they may be. But dreaming won’t be enough.  If the Revs are to make the post-season for the ninth year in a row, they need to begin by shaping up tonight and playing a strong possession game against FC Dallas.

As Steve Nicol told the press last Saturday night, “we’ll either sink or swim, and we better swim.”

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