Just as we do with every game, we bring in a fellow SBN blog to help preview the match for you. Today we welcome Jake Catanese of The Bent Musket to look at Saturday’s game.
BDS: New England was gifted a week off (well...sorta...I know snow removal is crazy work) last weekend, how did the time off help prep them for this weekend?
TBM: At the very least, I think a lot of headaches were avoided by postponing last week's game with Orlando. The Lions would've had to fly in Friday during a much smaller snowstorm last week, field and game conditions would've been awful and I doubt there would have been as much offense as their was up north in Minnesota where Atlanta United put up a six spot in orange ball weather.
This week, besides a week to get healthy, I think the Revs were able to plan ahead for their trip down to Dallas. They flew out already in advance of this road game, travelling in between a major winter storm and another front that will drop a couple more inches of snow on the ground in the next day or so. Combining our extra week off with Dallas' midweek game in the CCL and at the very least the Revs should be very fresh heading into this game.
BDS: Our DFW friend Lee Nguyen has been banged up a bit so far this year, how does he look heading into this game?
TBM: Lee Nguyen was subbed out at the hour mark of the season opener against Colorado two weeks ago and was day-to-day the week leading up to the postponed Orlando match. Heaps said that Nguyen would've been available against OCSC but how long he could've played or if he could have started will be a mystery. Nguyen also spent a decent part of preseason lined up at striker, with Juan Agudelo in the CAM/playmaking #10 role. It didn't go very well for Lee before he came off with the injury however so it will be interesting to see if the Revs try it again this week in Dallas. I'd expect Nguyen to at least start the match or perhaps come on/off at halftime in a platoon with Xavier Kouassi, who also working back to fitness after ACL surgery a year ago.
Other Revs injuries include backup keeper Brad Knighton who is in the concussion protocol and homegrown midfielder Zachary Herivaux who is still recovering from an ankle sprain he picked up in preseason. Centerback Benjamin Angoua was limited in preseason but started and played all 90 minutes against Colorado after recovering from an injury heldover from France before he signed with the Revs. Kouassi is not listed on the Revs injury report but is yet to make his Revs debut as he works back to full fitness.
More on the Rev’s injury situation can be found here.
BDS: If the Revs continue to struggle early on this season, do you think Jay Heaps' job will be in jeopardy?
TBM: I don't, and if we're being honest, the Revs starting with two losses on the road against Western Conference opponents in 2017 would not be the end of the world. It would be unfortunate, but the Revs are notorious slow starters in March since they tend to play a lot more road game to avoid the cold and snow like we're dealing with right now. Jay Heaps and New England have built a very solid core of MLS talent and while they've been inconsistent and trending downward after Jermaine Jones left, when they're at their best this is a team that can play with anyone in the league.
What New England does want to see is their offense starting to generate chances and the backline continue to build chemistry. There's a lot of new faces towards the back of the Revs formation: Cody Cropper in goal, Angoua and Antonio Delamea at centerback and Kouassi at holding midfield. The Revs diamond midfield setup finished very strong in 2016, the sooner the team can recapture that form the more dangerous they'll be in this season and beyond.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2): Cropper; Tierney, Angoua, Delamea, Farrell; Caldwell, Fagundez, Rowe, Nguyen; Agudelo, Kamara
No changes, unless Kouassi is ready to start then Heaps will have to make a decision of who to drop in the midfield. With Knighton out it will be third stringer Matt Turner as the backup keeper, a second year pro and former Fairfield Stags player who featured on loan for the Richmond Kickers a handful of times last season in the USL.
TBM Prediction: I really want a goal. I can't realistically ask for a point unless Dallas literally sits a majority of their starters after the CCL game. Dallas wins 2-1.