Fresh off another home win the San Jose Earthquakes travel across the country to take on the New England Revolution this Saturday at Gillette Stadium. They have lost only once in their last six matches and are looking to take advantage of a struggling Revs squad that is dead last in the Eastern Conference. Matias Almeyda and the Quakes will be without the services of Cristian Espinoza who will miss the match due to his red card last week against FC Cincinnati. Let’s take a look at what they are up against.
Manager: Brad Friedel
Stadium: Gillette Stadium (Home of many championships, none belonging to the Revolution)
Cropper was the Revolutions primary keeper for the 2017 season before being all but forgotten last season. This year he started the season on the bench, but after a bad start by Brad Knighton that saw him giving up eight goals in the first four matches, Friedel made a change and put Cropper back in the starting position. Since that change, the Revolution have played seven games and are giving up almost half a goal more per game (2.43). Last week the Philadelphia Union put up a touchdown against Cropper and his backline which can either shake your confidence or make you play better so that never happens again. The Quakes are hoping for the former.
Edgar Castillo, Jalil Anibaba, Michael Mancienne, Luis Caicedo
This was mostly the backline that was responsible for the goal scoring clinic the Union put on last week except for Anibaba who was serving a suspension for a red card the previous match. This group has allowed 30 goals this season, highest in MLS, including a record-setting 15 goals in the last three matches. This is a group that can get picked apart by a skilled player like Cristian Espinoza, but as I mentioned earlier, he will not be available for Almeyda, so it’s going to be up to someone else to be creative on that side of the pitch. Tommy Thompson is a player that has been having a good season and has the footwork to run around this defense to feed Danny Hoesen. The way the New England defense is reeling must have the more offensively minded Quakes players licking their chops.
Dejuan Jones, Scott Caldwell, Carles Gil, Tajon Buchanan
The Revs are second to last in possession percentage (45.9) just a hair above Minnesota United (45.7) so this yet another part of the lineup that has struggled this season. This is in contrast to the Quakes possessive style of play and could which means the New England midfield is going to have to do a lot of running over 90 minutes. This is after getting blown out 5-0 by Chicago Fire on Wednesday.
Juan Agudelo, Juan Fernando Caicedo
If your defense is giving up goals at a record-setting pace and you expect to compete in MLS this season you better be putting up big goal numbers on the offensive side, which is something the Revolution are not doing. Juan Agudelo is playing more minutes than he has most of his career but the extra time has not produced many results. Caicedo had been one of the few bright spots of the Revs last couple of weeks scoring three goals in the previous three matches, but he was kept off the scoresheet on Wednesday after being pulled at halftime. If you don’t win the possession game and your defense is giving up goals left, and right it leaves your offense is probably going to have a hard time putting the ball in the net. In the words of Johan Cruyff, “You have got to shoot, otherwise you can’t score.”