The Revolution have begun trending in a more positive direction after major personnel changes and a 3-1 victory over a hot San Jose team last weekend. But can they keep that turnaround going at Montreal on Saturday?
Montreal sits in fourth place, having handed the Revolution a 3-0 loss at Gillette Stadium back on April 24 in a game in which New England failed to record a shot on goal. With a 3-3 record in its last six, Montreal has been marred by inconsistent play and currently holds a minus-4 goal differential.
With a Revolution team that’s just starting to find its footing, here are three keys for New England to make up for their previous defeat against the Impact.
It seems every time the Revolution get into an attacking position, there has been a hesitation to shoot. The inability to get shots on target is clearly plaguing the offense this season, though the defense hasn’t helped much either.
While the strikers have gotten more involved in the past weeks, New England still needs to shoot more freely. Creating chances hasn’t been much of an issue with Carles Gil in the mix, but the finishing simply isn’t there.
With so many changes in a short span, it’s easy for players to get distracted. Having a coach with a résumé like Bruce Arena’s puts players at ease, but it can also add pressure.
The slate is clean again for New England, but starting anew in the middle of a tumultuous season is never easy. It’s important for veterans and leaders to step up and help younger players adjust to a new style while also keeping the entire team focused.
“As players, we have to do our best not to focus on stuff off the field,” said midfielder Scott Caldwell. “We’re excited to work under Bruce. He’s got a great track record. Everyone’s excited to learn.”
That’s exactly what this period in Revolution franchise history is, but it’s also what makes Montreal so dangerous. The Impact’s ability to move quickly through the middle third has been apparent in creating counterattack chances.
New England has struggled to defend this style of play, so the adjustment since Brad Friedel’s departure should be interesting.
“We know Montreal is a good opponent,” said Revolution forward Teal Bunbury. “They play extremely well at home. Going there and being able to get 3 points is going to be huge for us.”
Revolution vs. Impact
■ When, where: Saturday, 1 p.m., at Stade Saputo.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Coaches: Revolution — Mike Lapper; Impact — Remi Garde.
Formations: Revolution — 4-4-2; Impact — 5-3-2.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Matt Turner, Brad Knighton, Cody Cropper; Impact — Evan Bush.
■ Referee: Ramy Touchan.
■ Out: Revolution — M Isaac Angking (knee), F Tajon Buchanan (arm); Montreal — D Bacary Sagna (suspended), M Clement Bayiha (undisclosed).
■ Miscellany: Though Bruce Arena was hired as New England’s coach this week, Lapper again will have the helm as interim coach for this game . . . Montreal star midfielder Ignacio Piatti, who has missed two months with knee and calf injuries, is expected to be available . . . The series is tied, 9-9-2, with the Impact outscoring New England, 29-28 . . . New England has taken just 37 shots on target this season, ranking 23rd out of 24 MLS teams.
Dan Shulman can be reached at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @DanielRShulman.