By Kevin Koczwara
The New England Revolution will be short handed, again, tonight when they play a confident San Jose Earthquakes, riding a three game winning streak, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
The Revs are amidst a six-game losing streak, including Wednesday’s, 3-0, defeat at the hands of The New York Red Bulls in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game, and are looking to turn things around.
The Revolution’s early season struggles is due in part to the amount of injuries the squad has suffered. For Wednesday’s Cup defeat the team only had 14 players available — including two goalkeepers. The Revs went into the game with only one defender available, rookie Seth Sinovic, forcing manager Steve Nicol to shift things around and put players in unfamiliar roles. Kheli Dube was forced to push back from his striker position and fill in as a defensive midfielder, while midfielders Pat Phelan and Chris Tierney were pushed into defensive duties between Sinovic and rookie striker Zak Boggs.
The injury report is still pretty long for the Revolution, but nothing like it was on Wednesday in New York. Preston Burpo will return to net, moving Bobby Shuttleworth back into his usual back-up duties. Kevin Alston and Cory Gibbs hope to make the field again, despite being listed as questionable.
Gibbs and Alston will return to duty, major boost for the Revs. New England is already without two key defenders, Darrius Barnes with a right foot sprain, and Emmanuel Osei is still out with an infection in his right leg, and the more experienced and skilled defenders the better off the Revolution are.
A sturdy defense will be important for the Revolution tomorrow because they play one of the top sides in the Western Conference. San Jose has played only six games, but they have amassed 12 points in the league with a solid 4-2-0 record, good enough for fourth, despite playing fewer games than the teams above them.
The Earthquakes shutout the Revs earlier this season in San Jose, 2-0, and the Revs will need to beat their best on the defensive end as the Quakes are averaging close to two goals per game, thanks in a large part to the play of forward Chris Wondolowski.
Wondolowski has been a major part of San Jose’s winning streak. He has scored four goals in four games, helping push San Jose find its offensive touch. he opened up the scoring in San Jose when the Revolution and the Earthquakes last met on April 17. If the Revolution can’t find someway to contain Wondolowski and his strike partner Ryan Johnson they could end up like the New York Red Bulls did last weekend get blown out by the surging Earthquakes.
If the Revolution can’t get a win tomorrow at Gillette they will continue to be win-less in May, a horrid 0-4 with three games to play (one friendly with Portuguese Champions SL Benfica on Wednesday). But a win can change everything. If the Revolution can pull out an important win they can see themselves moving up in the standings and gaining ground on those ahead of them.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full injury Report:
New England Revolution–Out:: DF Darrius Barnes (R midfoot sprain); DF Emmanuel Osei; GK Matt Reis; FW Taylor Twellman; MF Mike Videira
Questionable:: DF Kevin Alston; DF Cory Gibbs; FW Edgaras Jankauskas
San Jose Earthquakes– Doubtful:: FW Eduardo
Questionable:: DF Steven Beitashour; MF Arturo Alvarez; DF Ike Opara