Coming fresh off of a 2-2 draw in Portland, the New England Revolution will be in front of their own fans this weekend. The visitors at Gillette Stadium will be FC Dallas with the Texas team also seeing their first game of the 2022 season ending honors even. Will the Revolution be able to pick up where they left off from last year’s imperious home form?
New England host FC Dallas in their home opener
The fortress that is Gillette Stadium
One of the keys to New England’s record-breaking regular season was the base they built off of home form. Gillette Stadium was a true fortress with the majority of MLS sides that came to town struggling. In the pre-match press conference, Bruce Arena said that “it’s always important to win at home. Every team in the league will tell you that it is important to win your games at home so certainly that’s going to be the goal on the weekend against Dallas.”
“Playing at home is definitely an advantage for us so to have our fans back in the stadium of this weekend [is great],” Polish forward Adam Buksa said, reinforcing Arena’s sentiments.
Bar down ⬇️
Carles Gil ➡️ @brandon_bye
Let "The Griddy" commence. pic.twitter.com/AtyGcczxAu
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) February 28, 2022
Going back to the score draw against the Timbers last time out and Arena was far from complimentary of his side. “We didn’t play well in Portland. We’ve just got to be better this week, get better in every area,” the coach said.
It was a turbulent pre-season for the Revolution, most notably the CCL tie with Calvary being cancelled.
“I think Portland were way ahead of us in their preparation,” Arena said. “They looked like a fitted team, more synchronized. We have to get better and that is certainly going to be our goal this week.”
More specifically on the calendar interruptions, the head coach claimed that, “our whole schedule was centered around playing the CCL games that got cancelled… we got kind of screwed up but hopefully over the next month or so we can make up for that.”
As Arena alluded too, the Dallas game this weekend, which will be there first of the year at Gillette Stadium, can be a good re-set point to get into the flow of the season.
The lay of the land for the two teams
Due to the obvious elephant in the room, cross-conference games have been few and far between in in the last couple of seasons. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous mention of Gillette Stadium being a fortress and the need for great home form in MLS.
Matt Turner was of course a key figure in the Revolution team that bossed the regular season in 2021. He has secured a move to Arsenal and, on an unrelated note, was absent from the Portland game. As confirmed by Arena, he will again be out of action.
“We don’t expect Matt to play this weekend,” Arena said. “Earl [Edwards Jr.] did very well I think in his first game with us in Portland and we’re happy with the pool of goalkeepers we’ve got.”
So excited, thank you ❤️ https://t.co/ibBbyELT6C
— Matt Turner (@headdturnerr) March 3, 2022
Interestingly, despite last year’s standings, FC Dallas have had the Revolution’s number previously. The Southern side have gone unbeaten in their last nine meetings; winning eight and drawing one. This 25-point streak is the best in Dallas’ history in fact against a single opponent and so New England will be intent to rectify this.
That being said, Dallas are struggling somewhat- missing out on the playoffs last term and with young star forward Ricardo Pepi securing a record-breaking move to Bundesliga side Augsburg. In his absence, fellow USMNT attacker Jesus Ferreira has been rewarded with a new DP contract and so the pressure mounts on his soldiers. Dallas have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last twenty matches on the road so this could easily be another goal fest.
Zeroing in on Buksa in particular and when asked what goals he may have, Arena said the Polish forward wants to try to do better than last year’s total of 16.
“I’m sure he’s going to try and duplicate it or do better. He’s had a good pre-season, he continues to fit in very well here both on and off the field,” Arena said.
Buksa himself had a say on the matter. “My approach hasn’t changed. I want to do as good as I can on the field and then the future,” he said.
— Elizabeth Pehota (@pehota) March 3, 2022
Buksa also spoke to the press about the Portland game, rather vehemently saying that, “you could see against Portland, I always had two center backs on my back. In my opinion, it was a clear penalty on me in the first half, you can check it out in the eighth or ninth minute, I was being pulled in my jersey.”
He is a physical player and so is often required to get down and dirty with the opposing defenders. The likes of Nkosi Tafari for Dallas are very technically gifted players but he will be up against it all the same.
The New England Revolution are of course defending the Supporters’ Shield this term, and it would be easy enough to tout them as favorites, but FC Dallas do pose a very real threat. Who will come out on top at Gillette Stadium?