By Kevin Koczwara
The New England Revolution will look to close out a busy month of May — they have played eight games in four weeks — with a win over the New York Red Bulls, which would be their first since April 10 when the Revs beat Toronto FC, 3-1.
New York (5-4-0, 15 pts.) started strong this season by winning four of their first five games, but since then they have cooled down in the league — losing three of their last four games. The Red Bulls have already beaten the Revs ( 2-6-2, 7 pts.) in May in a U.S Open Cup qualification game, 3-0. New York is coming off of a convincing win over Italian Giants Juventus, 3-1.
But this is a different Revolution squad than the one the Red Bulls hosted at the New Red Bull Arena on May 12. The Revs suited up only 14 players, including two goalkeepers, for the U.S. Open Cup match earlier this month because of injuries and fatigue. The squad had a number of players out of position because they only had one true defender in the line up, rookie left back Seth Sinovic. Revolution manager Steve Nicol had to put a squad out on the field, and he had to be creative because he was short a number of influential players — which has been a theme for the Revs this season, especially during this tough stretch in May.
A major change for the Revolution has to be the return of their stalwart midfielder Shalrie Joseph, who has only played two games this season, both against Toronto, because of injury and a leave of absence for personal reasons.
Joseph’s presence has been sorely missed in the Revs midfield. He is a top-class midfielder in the MLS, one of the few players who can control play, score goals and mark an oppositions best player. His absence has been a major factor int he Revolution’s poor start to this campaign.
As for the Red Bulls, they have had a resurgence this season after a horrid 2009 campaign that saw them finish as the worst team in the MLS. Currently they are second in the Eastern Conference, 5 points behind the undefeated Columbus Crew. And if the Revs hope to beat them they will need to stop the ageless Juan Angel, who has scored four goals in nine games this year. Angel is a pure goalscorer, something the Revolution lack right now, and doesn’t waste many opportunities in front of the net. So, if the Revs want to be successful against New York they have to keep Angel’s chances in front of goal to a minimum.
The Revolution will have to score some goals, something they have struggled with recently.The Revs haven’t scored in five games, since May 8 when they scored two goals in a losing effort to Columbus. If the Revolution can pull out this important win over the Red Bulls, then they will need to score a few goals and keep the pressure off of their defense, which has been under constant pressure this year..
And the Revolution need this win to stay in the hunt for a play-off spot and make a move up the Eastern Conference table. With Joseph back in the line up this is the perfect opportunity for the Revs to make a big step forward and move up in the standings.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.