Each remaining game for the Revolution carries more importance than the last. After a frustrating loss in New York City influenced by poor officiating, the Revolution turn the page this weekend with a trip to face Orlando City SC.
New England fell at NYCFC last Saturday, 2-1, in a game transformed by an early red card to Revolution defender Antonio Delamea. An independent review panel unanimously rescinded the red card fine and suspension, meaning Delamea will be available this weekend. But it did not change the result as a weary Revolution side succumbed to late attacking pressure by NYCFC.
Orlando is hanging around in the playoff hunt, sitting in ninth place just 4 points behind seventh-place New England. The Lions closed the gap slightly last weekend with a 2-2 draw against league-best LAFC and even led for much of the game.
New England already has dismantled Orlando this season, but it will take a near-perfect effort to do so again. Here’s what to watch for:
Switching off against any team can be dangerous, particularly Orlando. The Lions have been known to create scoring chances in the blink of an eye, doing so twice last week against LAFC.
Cristian Higuita is a big reason why Orlando is so quick to get into scoring positions. He possesses an innate field vision and serves as the point of attack for the Lions. He also has speedy and clinical forwards ahead of him, including Nani, Dom Dwyer, and Benji Michel.
“It will just be a grind,” said Bruce Arena. “Nothing [new] to prepare for, both teams know each other and we know their key players. It’s going to be a battle for 90 minutes.”
A Bou on top
The Revolution have been tactically diverse this season, certainly an encouraging sign. But when it comes to goal scoring, especially as of late, it has happened when Gustavo Bou plays a more central role.
Since arriving in New England, Bou has played in central midfield, on both wings, and at striker. The latter position is his natural one and the one New England acquired Bou to play. When he is on, Bou is usually up top as a striker and that’s where he needs to be against Orlando.
The Revolution are going to be shorthanded this weekend with Juan Agudelo and Wilfried Zahibo both set to miss the trip to Orlando due to yellow card accumulation. The true test of a playoff-caliber team is depth and the Revolution have shown to possess a quality amount in recent weeks.
New England’s midfield is particularly deep with several players itching to get minutes just waiting for a shot. Veterans like Scott Caldwell and Diego Fagundez could be called into a starting role while others like Tajon Buchanan may get an opportunity to prove their worth down the stretch.
“We know we have guys who can step up and fill those roles,” said Revolution defender Andrew Farrell. “Obviously those guys are big players but we’ve just got to make sure those guys are ready to go.”
When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5)
Formations: Revolution — 4-2-3-1; Orlando — 4-4-2
Goalkeepers: Revolution — Matt Turner; Orlando — Brian Rowe
Coaches: Revolution — Bruce Arena; Orlando — James O’Connor
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Out: Revolution — D Edgar Castillo (rib), M Wilfried Zahibo (suspended), M/F Juan Agudelo (suspended), F Teal Bunbury (hamstring); Orlando — D Joao Moutinho (hamstring), M Mauricio Pereyra (lower body).
Miscellany: The road team has never won in the all-time series through eight games with New England going 0-2-3 in Orlando . . . Andrew Farrell recorded his first assist last week since July 14, 2018 . . . New England lost an earlier match at Orlando in US Open Cup play back in June.