It’s official. With a league-best seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3), the Revolution are the hottest team in MLS.
A 2-1 win over Colorado July 4 allowed the Revolution to steal that crown from the host Rapids. The visitors also secured their second-straight road win, a feat they had not accomplished since 2015.
So when the Revolution (6-8-5) head to the nation’s capital Friday to take on D.C. United (8-5-7) for the second time this season in an ESPN-televised match from Audi Field in Washington, the scenario will look a bit different from their previous meeting in Foxborough.
In that 1-1 draw May 25, the Revolution were on the cusp of a rebirth — since adding 10 points for a total of 23 to claim eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Here’s how New England can extend its unbeaten streak as the Revolution seek their first win in D.C. since 2013:
D.C. won’t back down from a deficit. That became clear at Gillette Stadium in May, when Wayne Rooney scored on a penalty at the 90-minute mark, after Juan Agudelo put the Revolution up at the 61-minute mark. New England was playing a man down after keeper Matt Turner tackled Rooney in the opening of the second half.
This could be dangerous for the Revolution, who have allowed 15 of 36 goals this season in the 76-90 minute interval. United has come back to tie three times when trailing at the half, while New England has a 1-6-1 mark when down at the midway point.
”It’s a good team, and at their place, it will be a tough game,” said New England defender Brandon Bye. “But we’ve shown that we can go into environments and win games, so we’re looking at the same this weekend.”
Shut down Rooney
With D.C.’s second-leading scorer, Luciano Acosta, suspended through July 14, New England can — and should — focus its energy on Rooney.
The 5-foot-9-inch forward hasn’t just terrorized the Revolution this season. Rooney’s 10 goals and five assists make him D.C.’s leading scorer. He ranks fifth among the league’s best in goals and fourth in shots (64) and also leads the team with 22 shots on goal.
“As far as attack is concerned, they’re dangerous,” said Revolution defender Jalil Anibaba. “Home momentum, they’re dangerous as well. We’re confident in what we’ve been putting together as far as performances on the road, so it will be a good game.”
Win the midfield battle
If Rooney’s viral beyond-midfield goal against Orlando City in June wasn’t convincing, there’s more evidence to suggest that D.C.’s midfield is dangerous.
Seven players have scored for D.C. this season — four of them play midfield. Of the Revolution’s nine scorers, just two are designated to the middle.
New England has been experimenting with formation recently, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 against Colorado compared with previous 4-3-1-2 and 4-4-2 setups. The right formation could be the trick with D.C., who were hit with a 2-0 loss when FC Dallas lined up with a 4-2-3-1 against them July 4.
“You can tell that it’s working and we’re getting results,” Bye said. “Our two defensive center mids in the middle are locking things down. We’re getting production out of our top guys that need to score goals.”