FOXBOROUGH — For the Revolution, Wednesday’s loss to Real Salt Lake at Gillette Stadium was difficult to take. The Revolution carried a 1-0 lead into the 75th minute, only to surrender two late goals and enter stoppage-time trailing, 2-1.
Then, when a penalty kick one minute into the extra time presented a golden opportunity to pull even, Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando made a diving save on Saer Sene’s attempt to send the Revolution home without a point.
However, the condensed schedule this week has built in little time for self-pity. New England (2-4-3, 9 points) will get back out on the pitch Saturday night, hosting the Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls (6-4-2, 20).
“It was a cruel finish, the way the game ended on Wednesday,” Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen said. “A lot of guys were pretty down about it. But the good thing about this quick turnaround is that it should help us forget about that. We’re hungry to get a win.”
Playing two games in the span of four days presents challenges to a coaching staff.
Chief among those is finding the right balance between keeping players fresh and sending the most talented group on the pitch as often as possible.
“It’s part of what everyone has to deal with,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “Yeah, you’re concerned and you don’t want anyone to get injured, it’s a quick turnaround. We just have to be prepared, that’s why we have our strength coach and our preparation over the last week has been geared for this type of spike in workload, so we have guys that are ready to go.”
New York enters the contest on a four-game winning streak that began with a 4-1 victory over the Revolution at Red Bull Arena April 20. Like New England, the Red Bulls enter on short rest after a 2-1 win at home against Montreal Wednesday.
“New York is really playing well right now and they’re a hot team and we caught them when they were starting to warm up and they’ve been on a tear ever since,” Heaps said.
French-born forward Thierry Henry, who leads the Red Bulls with five goals and one assist this season, has planted himself firmly in the MLS MVP conversation this season. However, his status for Saturday remains up in the air.
Henry, who has been with the Red Bulls since 2010, has never appeared in a game at Gillette Stadium because the artificial turf presents injury risks to his 35-year-old legs. But with Peguy Luyindula on the shelf after suffering a left hamstring strain Wednesday, New York has just three forwards available and may choose to roll the dice.
“You’ve got to approach it as if [Henry’s] going to be here,” Heaps said. “It’s like anything, until we get the lineups at 6:30, we can prepare all we want and that’s what we do. You look at film and you see how they play through Henry, you’ve got to mindful of his presence.
“We’re not sending anyone to the airport [to pick Henry up],” Heaps joked. “If he’s here, we’re prepared for him.”
Continuing on the uncertainty theme, newly acquired 20-year-old forward Juan Agudelo may lace up for his Revolution debut Saturday night. Agudelo, who is rehabbing from a strained hamstring, had no limitations in training Thursday and Friday.
“I told Jay that I feel great,” said Agudelo, who made his professional debut with New York in 2010. “It’s still a coach’s decision whether I’m [out there] or not.”