The New England Revolution ended a long and dreary May on a high note with a win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. The win ended the Revolution’s seven game winless streak in the MLS, and gave the team its first win in May. Tonight the Revs look to win back-to-back games for the first time this year tonight in Seattle
New England should be confident going into Seattle. The Sounders are coming off a loss to the Colorado Rapids and the Sounders have not been playing up to their potential and meeting expectations thus far this season.
Fredy Montero has had an underwhelming season — scoring 3 goals in 11 matches so far. Freddie Ljuneberg is having a a sophomore slump as well this year in the MLS.
Ljunenberg was a huge part of the Sounders success last year, but he has been far from the same form. He has not scored a goal yet this year and has only helped assist on two goals in 11 games — vastly underachieving numbers for a player who has played well in the top leagues in Europe and was the major signing for the Sounders in their expansion season. His poor performance is right on par with the Sounders overall performance, not to expectations.
New England will hope the Sounders two front men will stay cold tonight as the Revs still are not fully stocked on defenders.
Darrius Barnes will be out of action again with a right ankle sprain and starting goalkeeper Preston Burpo will be out for the rest of the season after being placed on the Injured Reserve list earlier this week.
These is some good news for the Revolution defense though. Emmanuel Osei has finally recovered from the infection that was hampering him and will be available, but Osei’s has missed much of the season and is surely not match fit yet.
Kevin Alston has been removed from the injury report and, Cory Gibbs has been listed as probable after missing last weekend’s win over New York.
Getting players back will finally solidify the Revolution’s line-up. And it was no more evident that last week’s win over New York how much this team needs its best player off of the injury report on the field.
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph played back-to-back games for the first time this year the past two weekends, and his importance to the young squad was evident.
In his second game back Joseph commanded the midfield and supplied two assists — he has three assists in three games played. Joseph’s touch and passing skill was what the Revs were missing for much of the season.
Joseph’s class in the final third gives the team the ability to move better off the ball and make more daring plays into the box because they know Joseph can deliver them the ball and recover and play defense as well.
Joseph was a thorn in the side of Seattle last year. The Revs captain scored two goals in two games last season, helping the Revolution sweep the season series. Joseph was too much for the Sounders defense last year and could prove to be the decisive factor again in Seattle if he can keep supplying the Revolution with the cutting edge that they were missing for much of his absence this season.
Seattle will hope their own midfield maestro will be available to square off in the middle of the field against Joseph.
Osvaldo Alonso is listed as doubtful, but Seattle will be happy to see him suit up because he is the cog in their midfield for their attack. Alonso plays in front of the defense and has skill to turn the opponents attack around and push Seattle forward.
Seattle will want to push forward as the Revolution will start second-year goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in place of the injured Preston Burpo tonight. Matt Reis is available after being upgraded off of the injured reserve list, but is listed as doubtful for the game.
Shuttleworth earned his action in an MLS game last Saturday in the win over New York. He looked calm and composed, letting in only one goal in the minutes he played. He will have a much tougher task in Seattle than he did at home though. New York played much of the second-half of the game a man down and even had a second player sent off, so their possession and chances were slim.
Seattle needs this win to keep pace in the West and will have to go for goal as much as they can, they can’t afford to fall back any further than they already are behind the leaders Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake.
For the Revolution, this win would solidify them as a team going in the right direction with the World Cup break coming up. A win in Seattle would be their second away win of the season, their first win against a Western Conference opponent and their first back-to-back wins of the season. A win will help them keep pace with the other play-off contending sides in the league, something that wasn’t looking like a possibility just a few weeks ago.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.