After an abysmal start to the season, the Revolution, under new management, have engineered the beginning of a second-half turnaround, going unbeaten in their last five MLS games.
With their morale improved, they host the struggling Houston Dynamo Saturday night, looking to extend their unbeaten streak in the series to seven.
Both New England and Houston played midweek games. The Revolution tied Philadelphia, 1-1, at home while the Dynamo lost, 2-0, at San Jose. The Dynamo have played only six games on the road this season, dropping their last five.
While the Revolution are trending in the right direction, they need to start turning draws into wins. Here’s how they can capitalize against a tired Houston team.
Go full send
Although they had more attacking opportunities Wednesday, it still felt as though the Revolution weren’t pushing for a second goal. For much of the second half, they were content to sit back and let the game come to them.
Philadelphia out-possessed the Revolution, 70 percent to 30, in the second half, including 80-20 during the five-minute stretch in which it scored.
Playing this passive style has proven to be the Revolution’s undoing in the past, and it almost cost them the full 3 points against the Galaxy earlier this month.
Possession isn’t everything, but the Revolution simply can’t survive by parking the bus for a half, let alone a longer stretch. Plain and simple, they cannot settle for a one-goal lead and must push to extend that.
Make it a combo
The Dynamo defense is vulnerable, especially on the road. But what is the key to breaking them down? Quick passes, constant movement, and strong combination play all in the final third.
New England has the speed up top to pull this off, but it’s the off-ball movement that needs to improve. If the Revolution can make runs off the ball, whether upfield or laterally, they will open spaces between Houston defenders.
Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez said new coach Bruce Arena has emphasized this approach.
“From the first day he got here, he’s wanted us to play forward,” said Fagundez. “Making sure that we’re making runs behind their defense, everybody’s been trying to do that. To be honest, I think we do need to take more shots on goal.”
Though Foxborough has been kind to the Revolution over the years, their home record this year (3-4-2) leaves a lot to be desired. Attendance has dropped off this season, but the team’s support system remains loyal and the players know that.
It is important for New England to take advantage of its eight remaining home games by getting maximum points; otherwise the gap between the Revolution and a playoff spot will continue to grow.
“We want to turn our home-field advantage into a fortress,” said forward Teal Bunbury. “We need all the remainder of our home games to be wins for us. Our goal is to make the playoffs.”
Revolution vs. Dynamo
■ When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Formations: Revolution — 4-4-2; Houston — 4-1-4-1.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Matt Turner or Brad Knighton; Houston — Joe Willis.
■ Coaches: Revolution — Bruce Arena; Houston — Wilmer Cabrera.
■ Referee: Silviu Petrescu.
■ Out: Revolution — D Michael Mancienne (foot); Houston — M Eric Bird (ankle), M Memo Rodriguez (hamstring).
■ Miscellany: Houston hasn’t scored on the road in 397 minutes and extended its road losing streak to five with a 2-0 loss at San Jose Wednesday . . . New England is unbeaten in its last five MLS games (2-0-3), outscoring opponents, 7-4 . . . In the last six meetings dating back to 2014, the Revolution are 5-0-1 vs. Houston, outscoring the Dynamo, 13-4.