Preview: New England Revolution (a).
Updated: Sep 25, 2021
When? Saturday September 25, 4 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. ET and midnight BST (26/9).
Where? Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of the United States. Residents of central Florida can catch the game on Fox 35 Plus and LionNationTV, as well as radio on FM 96.9 The Game, Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM. The game is not currently scheduled for broadcast in the UK.
Tom Brady may have left Foxborough but the aura of impending doom still looms large over this historic stadium. Whilst Bill Belichick's squad mightn't have the same air of invincibility about them right now, there's been no such troubles for Bruce Arena's Revolution lately. The Lion's tamers from last season's post season have been in stupendous form all season. Their place atop the Supporters Shield standing is both without question and richly deserved. The Revs are currently 13 points clear of their nearest challengers, Sporting Kansas City.
Bruce Arena's side have been, by some considerable distance, the best team in Major League Soccer this season. Saturday's task is certainly a daunting one, particularly for an Orlando City team smarting from 3 consecutive defeats, and missing 1 of its first choice central defenders. If Oscar Pareja's team can escape Massachusetts with a point, it'd be one heck of a result. And that's not me being defeatist; it's me being pragmatic. This is a club that's outscored every team in MLS, and one that's gone 10-2-1 at home, with their only reversal at Foxborough coming way back in July.
So, yeah... Tough game...
New England's style
What can I say that's not already been said about the 2021 New England Revolution? Not much to be honest. This is a team with a lethal attack, though, crucially, a less than stellar defence. New England ranks 10/27 in terms of XGa at 1.56. They have only kept 3 clean sheets in 13 games at home, and 7 in 27 overall. Their defence isn't exactly impregnable, which is strange when you consider the defensive pieces they have; the likes of Henry Kessler and A.J. DeLaGarza are no slouches. They also have Matt Turner in goal. Their XGa at home is currently 1.36 (figure 1), which isn't exactly consistent with a team so rampant atop the standings. But here we are.
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A possible chink in their armour lies within their vulnerability from set pieces and aerial crosses. New England have conceded 16% (5) of their goals from set-pieces. They employ a man marking system, so effective movement and a decent ball in can cause chaos, as evidenced by the footage in figure 2, taken from their recent win over Chicago.
Their strength, however, lies in their goalscoring capabilities. This is a team that leads the MLS scoring charts with 51, and has an XG of 1.72, which has them ranked 3rd overall (figure 3). They have pace, power and creativity. Carles Gil is one of the best players in the entire league, whilst Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa have 23 goals between them. Orlando are going to have to defend like heroes to have any hope of salvaging something from this game.
Figure 1 shows some of New England's goals scored/conceded statistics.
Figure 2 shows New England's XG ranking.
Figure 3 is a clip from the Revs' game against Chicago.
According to the MLS injury report both Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou are questionable, though both featured against Chicago last time out. Jon Bell is also listed as a doubt, but he played the full 90 at the weekend. Elsewhere, Maciel, Edward Kizza and Emmanuel Boateng are all listed as questionable.
Orlando City, on the other hand, are without Antonio Carlos following his red card last week. Mason Stajduhar, Sebas Mendez and Uri Rosell will all likely miss out. Chris Mueller is a doubt. Alexandre Pato was meant to be back for Philadelphia, but has yet to be seen. Joao Moutinho is fit. Oh my gosh, don't you know it? Massive respect if you get that pop culture reference.
Edit: 9/25/21: Sebas Mendez trained with the team and is available. There have also been updates for the Revs:
Possible starting XI
My feeling is we'll see Bou and Gil start here. A win for the Revs would be a huge statement, and would place one hand on the Supporters Shield crown. I think Bruce Arena's team will line up in their familiar 4-3-1-2 as such:
Former Aston Villa midfielder Gil is the playmaker supreme, having carved out 16 assists so far this season. He's also scored 3 goals to boot. The Spaniard has been a revelation since joining the Revs from Deportivo La Coruna in 2019. Gil plays between the lines and chalks up 59.2 passes per game, and has played a whopping 105 key passes so far this season. One of the best players in the league right now.
Well, to summarise: theirs is good. Ours isn't. Their form is more like the Empire Strikes Back. Ours is the new Star Wars Visions TV show. Weird, and not enjoyable to witness. So, shall we not bother? Cool.
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