New England Revolution boss Bruce Arena says it is “critically important” his side secure a maximum return in their final batch of MLS games as they look to secure a strong postseason berth, as they prepare to make the short trip to face New York Red Bulls this weekend.
The north-eastern outfit have struggled for form away from their own turf this term, arguably making their path to a juicy place in the fight for the MLS Cup something of a more arduous task than should have been.
Arena has acknowledged that ahead of the journey south down the coast, and admits his team have failed to live up to their potential when they have made the journey away from their own fiercely contested patch.
“We haven’t been a particularly good road team this year,” he stated. “We were last year. We’re not treating it like a playoff game.
“I don’t know what that means. I think every game we try to win, but we’re certainly going to New Jersey with the expectation to win the game. These last five games are critically important, so we need to get points and we’re going to get after it on Saturday.”
Opposite number Gerhard Struber meanwhile has spoken about the threat possessed by Revolution star midfielder Carles Gil, with the NYRB boss vowing to be wary of the Spaniard’s threat.
“Of course I think we know Carles is [one of] the key players for them,” he stated. “We know how they create, hold possession, make good chances. In this direction, we have to bring the right numbers into key areas. You cannot stop Carles in every action [he takes].
“He’s an outstanding football player with outstanding technique. He’s very smart. We have to be very, very focused and concentrated. We have to invest everything on Saturday, and not let them come [to us] in the difficult moments.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
NYRB – Lewis Morgan
The former Scotland international might fancy his chances of a recall given the form he has displayed in the Big Apple this season. With 13 goals to his name and a further four assists, he is top scorer at the Red Bulls this term.
New England – Gustavo Bou
With Adam Buksa having departed to Europe to join Lens, it has fallen to Bou to front up the Revolution’s hit-and-miss attack. Seven goals leaves him joint top of the club’s rankings for this season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Each of the last two meetings between the Red Bulls and Revolution have been won by the away team, including a 1-0 Red Bulls win in Foxborough on April 2. Only three of the previous 38 MLS meetings (incl. playoffs) between the sides were won by the away team dating back to August 2007.
– The Red Bulls’ 2-0 defeat to the Union on Saturday was their sixth home defeat of the season, the most in a single campaign since moving to Red Bull Arena in 2010. New York hasn’t lost more home games in a single season since recording eight defeats in the 2002 campaign.
– New England ended a four-match winless run with a 3-0 victory over New York City FC on Sunday. The Revs have put together consecutive wins only once all season, doing so on August 6 and 13, with the first of those wins the club’s only other three-goal victory of the season (at Orlando City).
– The Red Bulls held 55.9% possession in their loss to the Union on Saturday. New York, whose 42.8% possession average is second-lowest in MLS (Vancouver – 42.0%), has won only two of the eight matches in which it’s held more than 50% of the ball this season (D4 L2).
– Noel Buck scored his first career MLS goal on Sunday against New York City FC. At 17 years, 152 days old, Buck is the third player to score an MLS goal this season before turning 18, joining Atlanta United’s Caleb Wiley and the Red Bulls’ Serge Ngoma (2).