The Revolution will be sending more than 500 fans to North Jersey Saturday night for the final regular-season matchup against the New York Red Bulls.
They’ll need it to feel as much like home as possible to get a good result. Going into this season, the Revolution hadn’t won in New Jersey since the first leg of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals, a 2-1 triumph.
That was, until this season’s US Open Cup. The Revolution were down to 10 men yet managed to tie the match late before an extra-time winner sealed a 3-2 victory over the Red Bulls June 11. New England also won the first regular-season meeting, 1-0, in April at Gillette Stadium.
With the Revolution among the hottest teams in the league and sitting just 3 points back of the Red Bulls, a win would put them in striking distance of a top-four spot in the East.
Here’s how they can do it.
Over the past few games, the Red Bulls have struggled defending against aerial balls in the box.
Last Sunday, LAFC scored twice on headers in a 4-2 win over the Red Bulls. It’s not for lack of talent at the back, but simply not getting into position to prevent chances quick enough.
The Revolution play seven of their final nine games against Eastern Conference opponents, making the need to get off on the right foot in each match more crucial. And with confidence at a season high, New England is in position to do that, even on the road.
“Every game is important right now,” said Diego Fagundez. “We need to make sure that we’re getting points no matter what it takes. This squad, we can definitely win every game. It all starts from this one.”
Stretch ’em out
While the Red Bulls’ back line features some established talent, they are vulnerable in their overall lack of pace, with the exception of Kemar Lawrence. In the middle is where they get victimized the most.
In recent games, goals have been flying in as a result of center backs pushing or being pushed too wide. That not only opens up space in the center of the box, but also forces full backs to cover inside, which doesn’t always happen immediately.
The Revolution are fully equipped to take advantage, with players such as Carles Gil creating space and Gustavo Bou or Teal Bunbury slipping in.
The Red Bulls are an ever-dangerous team because of their ability to create scoring chances so fast. In last week’s loss to LAFC, both goals came out of quickly developed scoring chances. The first one was even more remarkable because of its shock factor.
That’s something the Revolution struggled with last weekend. Seattle scored twice in the span of a minute.
Last time the teams met, the Red Bulls were without midfield maestro Kaku. But with him back in the fold, it presents a different challenge. New England must stay switched on against the Red Bulls, especially on the road.
Revolution vs. Red Bulls
■ When, where: Saturday, 7 p.m., at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Coaches: Revolution — Bruce Arena; Red Bulls — Chris Armas.
Formations: Revolution — 4-3-3; Red Bulls — 4-2-3-1.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Matt Turner; Red Bulls — Luis Robles.
■ Referee: Chris Penso.
■ Out: Revolution — D Andrew Farrell (suspended); Red Bulls — M Florian Valot (knee).
■ Miscellany: New England leads the all-time series, 31-27-15, but is just 8-21-8 on the road, without a regular-season win since July 2007 . . . The visiting team has won just twice in the past 12 seasons, both by the Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium in 2014 (2-0) and 2017 (3-2) . . . Revolution M Carles Gil had a goal and an assist last week in Seattle, the fourth time in the last five games he has done that.