Arena labels MLS schedule ‘crazy’, but former United States coach grateful to be playing

Sports

Bruce Arena has labelled the schedule for the remaining MLS fixtures as “a bit crazy”, but is nevertheless grateful to have the opportunity to complete the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arena’s New England Revolution face Montreal Impact on Wednesday, going up against Thierry Henry’s side for the second time in 2020 regular season after a 2-1 defeat in February.

The Revs also met the Impact in the MLS is Back Tournament in July, winning 1-0, and will face the Canadian side again on October 15, this time at Red Bull Stadium in New York, which is acting as Montreal’s home ground.

“We’re going to end up playing teams four times,” Arena told a news conference on Tuesday. “It does get monotonous. That’s why they expanded the playoffs, because the schedule is so awkward and unbalanced.

“There’s going to be five teams in our conference that we don’t play this year. It is a bit crazy. I guess it’s an advantage that you don’t have to do much scouting, you play these teams so many times.

“That’s the easy part, it’s unfortunate but having said that we’re all pleased that we have a season. We’re grateful that we’re playing. There’s some complaints but we’re just pleased with the opportunity to do what we like to do.”

New England are seventh in the Western Conference, but the Revs have struggled to convert chances into goals, something Arena acknowledged must change.

“There’s a lot of parts of our game that need to get better, a lot to concentrate on. We’re going to score goals, it’s a matter of time, but time is running out on us,” he said.

Henry, meanwhile, had a simple message for his side after their heavy defeat on Sunday: “We learn, and move forward.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New England Revolution – Kelyn Rowe

New England striker Rowe has scored six goals and assisted five in 20 career appearances against the Impact, both the most he’s recorded against any team in his MLS career.

Montreal Impact – Victor Wanyama

The Impact have conceded seven goals in their last two games, and if they are to set about disrupting New England, then Wanyama may well be crucial. The former Tottenham midfielder has scored one goal from 11 appearances this term.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– This will be the third meeting of the season between New England and the Impact after the Revs won 2-1 in Montreal in February before the Impact won 1-0 in the MLS is Back group stage.

– Montreal won 3-0 at Gillette Stadium in April 2019 after losing their previous four visits to Foxborough by a combined 9-0.

– The Revolution are winless in their first five home matches this season (D4 L1), the longest they have ever gone without a home win to start a season.

– Henry’s side have lost two straight matches, and four of their last six, conceding 11 goals.

– The Impact have had a player sent off in three consecutive MLS matches for the second time in club history. The last team to have a player sent off in four straight matches inside of a single season was Houston Dynamos (five straight) in August-October 2009.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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