Match Previews

New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls: Aiming for a better April

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

MLS | Gillette Stadium | Fri., April 1 | 7 p.m. ET

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Billed as

Eastern Conference contenders looking to kickstart their seasons.

The lowdown

There are more questions than wins for the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls, two teams expecting to be high in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Revolution held firm playing with 10 men for much of the second half against New York City FC last week and nearly took all three points. Their attacking play missed Lee Nguyen but could have secured the result with better finishing. Nguyen will return this weekend to help the Revolution find its first goal from open play since March 6.

Though NYCFC could have provided more of a challenge, New England’s backline coped well with Je-Vaughn Watson’s absence. The right back is done with international duty but will serve his red card suspension on Friday evening. The Revolution’s defense made gave up seven goals last month as a result of poor clearances and soft marking.

New York’s dramatic victory over the Dynamo two weeks ago has had its cost. The three players injured that game remain sidelined and head coach Jesse Marsch said Gonzalo Veron, Gideon Baah and Ronald Zubar are not making the trip due to hamstring issues. Kemar Lawrence picked up an injury while with Jamaica, leaving Karl Ouimette as the only center back with MLS experience. Zach Caroll, their second-round pick in this year’s SuperDraft, or right back Chris Duval, could step in.

Up front, Veron’s injury leaves the Red Bulls back where they were. Mike Grella will move back into the starting lineup which hopes the three-goal second half against the Dynamo is the start of a return to last season’s form.

Team news

Expect London Woodberry to start for Watson just as he did last week. Kelyn Rowe will likely move to right wing with Nguyen bouncing Teal Bunbury to the bench. Daigo Kobayashi is likely to replace the suspended Gershon Koffie.

If Lawrence is unavailable or has to move to the middle, Connor Lade would likely start at left back. Of the three injured Red Bulls, Zubar is the closest to a return but that might not be until later in April. Damien Perrinelle should begin training this month after tearing his ACL in last year’s playoffs. The Red Bulls remain undecided on Amobi Okugo, who has been on trial for a week.

Player to watch: Bradley Wright-Phillips

It has been a quiet start to the season for Bradley Wright-Phillips. He has yet to score in 2016 after tallying 17 goals last season, and the seven shots in three appearances is a drop-off from his usual average of three shots per game. Wright-Phillips is healthy but suffering from a lack of sharpness and service. If the Red Bulls’ attack comes to life, he should fire his way back to par soon.

The managers

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Heaps’ side handled going a man down better the second time around. The Revs were able to remain organized for the second half and create chances for themselves on the counter. A far better performance than it had against the Philadelphia Union. Now Heaps will have to find a solution for his side’s attacking woes, without the help of a red card.

Marsch faces an uncertain month ahead as he waits for his center backs to get healthy. The Red Bulls can’t play as aggressively up the field without proven talent at the back. Until Baah, Zubar and Perrinelle return, Marsch will have to dial down the pressure and rely on solid organization to protect what will be a makeshift defense.

Facts and figures

  • The Red Bulls have only won once at Gillette Stadium.
  • The last time the Revolution won a game without Lee Nguyen in the starting lineup was May 2, 2015, against the Red Bulls.
  • Felipe scored two goals in a game for the first time in his career against the Dynamo.
  • The Revolution are the most-fouled team in the league with 63 suffered last month.

FourFourTwo prediction

Revolution 2–1.

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