Each week we do a Q&A with our friends around the SB Nation Soccer world to get some insight on their team from those who know them best. Know your enemy.
Weird MLS scheduling strikes again as New York City FC is at home on a Wednesday to play the New England Revolution. NYC FC was taken to school in the Dirty South in less than 10 minutes Sunday, losing to Atlanta United 3-1 after a barrage of early goals.
Midweek, New York welcomes the New England Revolution, who sit 7th in the Eastern Conference and are coming off a tough 2-1 defeat against New York Red Bulls.
Jake Catanese of The Bent Musket fills us in on everything Revs ahead of the match. We chat recent form, road success, and how to play against NYC FC in Yankee Stadium.
Q. New England was on a mini run heading into this past weekend, taking six out of six points at home before losing on Saturday to Red Bulls. What was going well for the Revs heading into the game and what lead to the poor result against our rivals?
J. Well for starters, Diego Fagundez has been on a roll. He scored three times in two games during that previous homestand you mentioned against RSL and Columbus and he drew the early penalty at RBA that helped the Revs get out to an early lead. After that, well it was kind of the same old Revs, who mostly shut down on offense after the goal and never found the game again until it was too late. The Red Bulls had a fluke goal right after halftime and then hit a deserved winner later in the second half and New England didn't have enough time to rally.
It's not the first time we've seen this from the Revs this year. Like last Saturday, the Revs scored an early PK at FC Dallas and then just sat back and waited for Maxi Urruti to obliterate them. The Revs got out to a 3-0 lead in Seattle and also managed to blow that in the final fifteen minutes for a draw so it's easy to say that holding a lead is an issue for the Revs, especially on the road. I will say they seemed to fare a lot better defensively against RBNY but the attack was mostly nonexistent after the penalty and that's a bigger issue. The Revs are a dominant team when on the counter but away from Gillette them seem hesitant to break out and it winds up costing them.
Q. The Revs are still finding life difficult on the road despite the more spirited performance this past weekend against Red Bulls. Is there something you can point to that explains their road struggles (5 losses and 2 draws this year, 7 losses and 2 draws in their last 9 games)?
J. Not really, but the attacking mentality I eluded to above is probably the biggest issue. New England has started very well on the road on more than one occasion and they've had the lead in several of those road games. But they take their foot off the gas and settle in defensively and that's not what this New England team is built to do. This is a team that's built to attack and has the players to do that, so having them sit back in a diamond midfield with two strikers seems counter-productive.
I still think the Revs are a threat in the Eastern Conference, but they won't make the playoffs unless they can start getting wins on the road. They've had opportunities to do so this year, including last Saturday, and have little to show for aside from several solid performances on the road in 2017. A lot of teams, especially in the East, tend to struggle on the road and thankfully the Revs are mostly done with playing Western teams for the season. But that makes the road games against the East that much more important and blowing leads/dropping points to rivals is not a helpful strategy for moving up in the standings.
Q. New England has had some legitimate success against NYC FC and has taken a win and draw in three trips to Yankee Stadium. What does the team need to do this Wednesday to take all three points and exercise their away-from-home demons?
J. For starters, attack for 90 minutes. Especially against a team like NYC and on a short week, I think the Revs have to be really aggressive in this game. I know the NYC defense is improved and Sean Johnson has been a tremendous upgrade in goal, but when the Revs dominated in the final game of the season in 2015 at Yankee Stadium, they scored early and often and closed the game out well. Not even a late PK by Villa could tarnish a full 90 minute performance like that, which was wonderful to watch in person on the second deck of the stands, by the way.
I know a home game with Toronto FC looms at the weekend but I really thought the Revs could get two positive results from this New York trip. Losing at RBA over the weekend kind of makes this a must win in my book. The Revs are the last team in the East with out a road win, they're four points back of NYC in the standings currently, it would be a big three points if it happens.
4-4-2 Diamond: Cropper; Tierney, Angoua, Delamea, Farrell; Kouassi, Caldwell, Rowe, Fagundez; Agudelo, Nguyen
On a narrow field, I want all of the Revs technical midfielders out there, so Scotty, Kelyn and Diego all start. I don't love the idea of Nguyen as a striker but really he's just another #10 out there. It wouldn't shock me if Brad Knighton got a start to spell Cody Cropper in net either. Benjamin Angoua and Andrew Farrell return from suspension and start in the backline again.
Teal Bunbury (Susp - DisCo), Zachary Herivaux (Loan - USL, San Antonio), No injuries
I wanted a 2-1 win at RBA and didn't get it. However, my lucky baseball jersey is undefeated at Yankee Stadium (because you wear baseball jerseys at a baseball stadium right? That's how it works?) so I'll predict another 2-1 Revs win and see if it works this time.
Thanks again to Jake for sitting down with us ahead of the match. Don’t forget to hit us up in the comments section with your thoughts!