The first 10 games of the MLS season have been somewhat of a struggle for both the Revolution and Real Salt Lake. With just two victories each, the teams will look to reverse their fortunes Saturday night when they meet at Gillette Stadium.
New England had been steadily gaining ground in the Eastern Conference at the start of April, but has since faltered, going 0-2-3 in its last five games. The most recent blunder came against Columbus last Saturday, as New England fell, 2-0, in Ohio.
Real Salt Lake is coming off three straight losses, after a coaching change in early April sparked consecutive wins. Former New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke took the reins for RSL after an abysmal start.
“I think Mike is getting his feel into the group and definitely changing the team in his identity,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “They come in, they play hard, they play physical, they work hard, so we’re going to be ready for a group that is hungry to come here and play.”
The Revolution and RSL met last season in Sandy, Utah, playing to a 0-0 draw.
But for Salt Lake, this meeting could be similar to its last visit to New England, in 2015, when it was without several key defensive players and lost, 4-0.
RSL could be missing as many as seven players, including goalkeeper Nick Rimando and defenders David Horst and Tony Beltran. With a minus-9 goal differential — second-worst in the league — Salt Lake may be desperate to stave off the attack-minded Revolution.
New England boasts a couple of the league’s top offensive players in Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen. With Kei Kamara set for a possible return, New England will look to apply heavy pressure against what could be a makeshift backline for Salt Lake.
New England also bolstered its midfield this week by reacquiring Gershon Koffie on loan from Hammarby in Sweden. He will be unavailable for this weekend, however.
Saturday’s game kicks off an important stretch for New England, as seven of its next 11 games will be at home, through the end of July, with the farthest travel being to Toronto.
“I think that so far this season we’ve proven that we can be a very good threat at home, and I think we have to continue that mentality,” said Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper. “Continue to be strong and go out there and play in front of our home fans like we have done in the past.”