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Revolution’s keys to victory over the Red Bulls

Bradley Wright-Phillips (right) has been a thorn in the Revolution’s side.steve luciano/AP/Associated Press

It has gone from dire to calamitous for the Revolution the past two weeks. After seemingly turning the tide with a victory to end March, the Revolution (1-5-1) put up a pair of zeros in consecutive shutout losses, and now face a true test of character and determination.

With eight games in the next 29 days, New England can build momentum, starting Saturday with a rivalry game against the New York Red Bulls (1-3-2) in Foxborough.

The Revolution started strong under Brad Friedel last season before the wheels came off during a heartbreaking home loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in July. Since then, New England is 4-14-5 and has scuffled to find any sort of groove.


At this point, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. So here are New England’s three keys for Saturday.

Get Gil involved In the last two losses, opponents have keyed in on Carles Gil, essentially taking him and his chance-creating ability out of the game.

During the win over Minnesota on March 30, Gil created four great chances and was constantly in possession.

It didn’t take long for teams like Columbus and Atlanta to figure that out, and in last weekend’s loss to the latter, there were two players constantly marking Gil, forcing the Revolution into wide areas.

If the Revolution have any chance of finishing Saturday night with 3 points, Gil needs to be involved in some capacity, which means quicker passes and more off-ball movement by everybody, especially strikers.

Shooters have to shoot After seven games, none of New England’s top three strikers — Juan Agudelo, Juan Fernando Caicedo, and Teal Bunbury — has a single shot on target.

The Revolution are the lowest-scoring team in MLS (5 goals); without any contribution from the players who should be primary scorers, it’s hard to generate offense.


A big reason for that is hesitation in and around the box. Those three strikers have a combined 19 shot attempts, and the team has only 19 shots on target. It goes without saying, but you can’t score goals if you don’t shoot on net.

“Just being lethal in the final third,” said Revolution midfielder Brandon Bye. “We’ve had some of those chances. I think we can, but when that happens, I think we’ll be dangerous.”

Don’t get beat by BWP Bradley Wright-Phillips has been one of MLS’s most clinical goal-scoring threats for the past five years. He has done a number on the Revolution, scoring in each of the past six meetings over all competitions.

The Revolution halted some key scoring threats this season, silencing the elite Josef Martinez last weekend, Darwin Quintero two weeks back, and Dominique Badji on opening day.

But BWP presents a unique challenge, mixing speed and ability to win battles both on the ground and in the air. New England will need to stay alert to keep him off the scoresheet.

“You’ve just got to remain switched on,” said Revolution captain Michael Mancienne, who crossed paths with his compatriot while the two played in their native England.

“People like that come alive in the box. You’ve got to stay concentrated at all times, because if the ball drops down to him, you know he can finish it.”

Revolution vs. Red Bulls

■  When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough.

■   TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM 98.5.

■   Formations: Revolution — 4-4-2; NY — 4-3-3.


■   Coaches: Revolution — Brad Friedel; NY — Chris Armas.

■  Goalkeepers: Revolution — Cody Cropper; NY — Luis Robles.

■   Referee: Drew Fischer.

■   Out: Revolution — D Antonio Delamea (knee), M Isaac Angking (knee), F Justin Rennicks (hamstring); NY — M Florian Valot (knee), Kaku (red card).

■   Miscellany: New England hasn’t scored in 198 minutes and has been shut out four times this year, tied for most in MLS . . . The Revolution lead the series, 30-27-15, with a commanding 22-6-7 edge at home . . . New England (62) and Carles Gil (19) lead the MLS in possessions gained in the attacking third this season.