This past week provided a fresh start for the Revolution. After snapping a nine-game winless streak with a 1-0 win at New York City FC Sept. 5, the Revolution enjoyed a 10-day break from competition to refuel for the playoff push.
New England’s quest for the final spot takes a challenging turn with a trip west to face the expansion Los Angeles FC Saturday night in the first-ever meeting between the clubs.
The victory at NYCFC also snapped a 10-game road winless streak, tied for fourth-longest in club history.
New England put in a strong defensive performance anchored by veteran goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who was making his first appearance of the year. Second-year budding star Brian Wright scored the goal, his first career MLS score.
“Very pleased,” said coach Brad Friedel. “I thought our second-half performance was very solid. We came under a fair amount of pressure, and I thought Brad Knighton calmed things down in the back for us.”
Along with Wright’s big game, New England gave 18-year-old Isaac Angking the opportunity to make his senior debut as a second-half substitute. Angking had spent much of the season recovering from an illness and was finally able to make it onto the field last Wednesday. He almost scored his first goal as well but his rebound shot rammed into the post.
“It’s great that they do it once,” said Friedel. “We’ve spoken many times over the course of the season: ‘Now that’s done, now you have to go prove yourself again and again.’ That’s what makes average players into good players and good players into great players.”
The win has the potential to give New England momentum for a turnaround.
“The morale has been great through the good times and the bad,” said Knighton. “We’ve got a great locker room full of guys in here that everybody wants to win.
“Now that we’ve got the win on our back, we can hopefully use that as some momentum going forward in these last six games.”
Another player who has taken advantage of a fresh start this season is former Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen, now with Los Angeles. Nguyen, regarded as one of the best players to don the Revolution uniform, ranks second in club history in both goals (51) and assists (49) and owns the franchise record with 16 penalty-kick goals.
Although Nguyen has been hot as of late — with three goals in seven games — New England is focusing on LAFC’s unique attacking style as a whole. LA has a versatile midfield with players such as Nguyen and Diego Rossi feeding a talented forward corps that includes scorers Christian Ramirez and Carlos Vela.
“They’ve set up that team really well,” said Revolution defender Andrew Farrell. “A lot of guys that can make you pay on the defensive end, so we’ve got to be ready for that.
“It’s going to be good playing against Lee, seeing a familiar face, but obviously it’s all business.”
Revolution vs. Los Angeles FC
■ When, where: Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Coaches: Revolution — Brad Friedel; LAFC — Bob Bradley.
Formations: Revolution — 4-3-3; LAFC — 4-3-3.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Brad Knighton/Matt Turner; LAFC — Tyler Miller.
■ Referee: Mark Geiger.
■ Out: Revolution — D Chris Tierney (knee); LAFC — G Quillan Roberts (leg), D Danilo Silva (hamstring), M Mark-Anthony Kaye (ankle), F Adama Diomande (adductor).
■ Miscellany: LAFC M Lee Nguyen will be facing his former club for the first time since being traded in May after playing 191 games for the Revolution and scoring 51 goals . . . This is the first meeting between the teams following LA’s entry into the league last spring . . . Bradley served as head coach of the US national team from 2006-11.