Will the Revolution Continue Their Winning Streak at Gillette Stadium?

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After a rough start to the new season, the New England Revolution are beginning to improve. With key players returning from injury and the CCL nightmare further in the past, New England have won their last two at home. Can the Revolution continue this run when Columbus Crew come to town this weekend?

Can the Revolution Continue to Improve as Columbus Come to Town?

The 2022 Season Thus far

Caleb Porter led the Crew to MLS Cup glory in 2020, the second in the club’s history. Last season though, the decline was remarkable. Columbus failed to make the playoffs and so are back for a vengeance, with very much the same squad. It has been up-and-down thus far this year, “solid” in the words of Bruce Arena.

They were unbeaten through four, winning two of them. The Crew put four past Vancouver before drawing with the Earthquakes in a six-goal thriller. Lucas Zelarayan, who had three goals in two to his name, was on target again as they edged out Toronto. The final of those four games saw Columbus visit Red Bull Arena, Darlington Nagbe scoring right at the death to rescue a point for Porter.

Since then, they “got in a little bit of a slump and won last weekend and had a draw in Kansas City.” There were three losses on the bounce against Nashville, Philly and Orlando, in which they failed to score a single goal. As Arena pointed out in his pre-match press conference, it was a goalless draw against SKC before they beat DC 3-0 last weekend. Nagbe once again found the back of the net.

Will the Revolution Continue to Thwart the Crew?

New England themselves have had a rocky time of it to date but look to be turning the corner. The Revolution continue to get key players back to fitness besides Gustavo Bou who is “probably a week away.” The Crew have proved to be a good opponent for the Revs last year. In the three 2021 meetings, New England won one whilst the other two ended all square. Prior to that though, Columbus were on a four game winning streak, not conceding a single goal in the process.

Both the Revolution and the Crew are ambitious sides who, in an ideal world, would be challenging at the top of the Eastern Conference. In coach Arena’s estimations; “it’s pretty tight from top to bottom. A few teams are a little bit ahead, and everyone else is within striking distance. So, who knows where we are, and hopefully, we’re heading in the right direction.”

Who Will Make the Difference?

Starting with the visiting side. If the Revolution continue to win at Gillette Stadium, it will be at the expense of the Crew. “[Lucas] Zelarayán is an excellent player, [Derrick] Etienne Jr. is having a good start, [Darlington] Nagbe is one of the best midfielders in the league. They got an experienced goalkeeper [Eloy Room].” Arena picked out these players as the key assets for Porter, the first three being the only ones to have netted more than once in the black and yellow this term. Zelarayan was the MLS Cup MVP in 2020 whilst Nagbe has won the cup with three teams; Portland, Atlanta and now Columbus.

Restoring parity in the Revs backline has been key when it comes to them getting back on track. Midfielder Matt Polster was full of praise for Henry Kessler and Andrew Farrell, as well as the man in between the sticks. “[Matt] Turner, you know, he’s okay. [Laughing] He’s okay to have back, but he’s a great goalkeeper. He just makes the group feel comfortable.”

The Revolution continue to involve academy players. One such player is Damian Rivera who scored against Miami, as Polster alludes to here: “obviously, Tico got to show that moment in the game and he’s done that multiple times in training. He’s arguably one of the most annoying players to play in training. I try and kick him as much as possible so he gets used to it in games.” Rivera has excelled when he gets on the field and so the opportunities will surely follow.

Columbus are next on the list for Bruce Arena’s men in Boston. They are somewhat reminiscent of the Crew given their tough start the year after winning a trophy. Unlike Porter’s side last year though, the Revolution continue to get back on track and in the playoffs, anything can happen!

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