7:30 pm ET (WB-56)
Once again featuring all of their internationals, the New England Revolution - the league's best team record-wise - have endured a difficult stretch where they were missing key performers for long periods and still hold a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference. They play host to a Columbus Crew side which has won five of its last seven games - all by shutout - but still face a massive uphill climb if they are to get out of the East cellar and into the MLS Cup Playoffs, 11 points out of fourth place with eight games remaining.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): George Vergara; 4th: Nik Bratsis
MLS Career: 37 games; FC/gm: 31.1; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 3; pens: 12
Games involving Revolution: P6 W3 L1 T2; FC/gm: 28.3; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving Crew: P4 W2 L1 T1; FC/gm: 37.5; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 3
INJURY REPORT: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Ryan Latham (L groin pain); PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (L finger fracture); FW Connally Edozien (R MCL sprain) ...COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Stephen Herdsman (L groin strain); DF Ryan Kelly (R knee sprain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); GK Jon Busch (R knee)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
WARNINGS: NE: Clint Dempsey (10 CP in 2 gms); Marshall Leonard (18 CP)
The Eastern Conference rivals meet for the third time in four encounters this season, the second in New England. They'll conclude the season series in just 11 days when they meet for the second time at Crew Stadium.
ALL-TIME (36 meetings): Revolution 11 wins (1 shootout), 45 goals ... Crew 20 wins (4 shootout), 56 goals ... 5 draws
IN FOXBOROUGH: (18 meetings): Revolution 7 wins (0 shootout), 24 goals ... Crew 9 wins (3 shootout), 20 goals ...2 draws
The Revolution have won both previous meetings this season, winning once on each ground, first claiming a 3-0 victory on April 9, then a 3-1 win on June 22.
The Columbus Crew saw their MLS-record 19-game league unbeaten streak ended in the 3-0 loss at Gillette Stadium.
The match burst into life in the second half when the Revolution finally took advantage of their dominance throughout the match. Clint Dempsey gave the Revolution a 64th-minute lead when he powered home a diving header from a drive cross by Jay Heaps.
Noonan then doubled New England's lead on 82 minutes when the Crew failed to clear from their own area, Columbus 'keeper Jon Busch parrying Taylor Twellman's shot but only into the path of Noonan who slammed the ball into the back of the net.
Twellman then played provider for New England's third, breaking down the right on a counter before rolling a centering pass that substitute Andy Dorman flicked underneath Busch with a last gasp touch with the outside of his right boot, the ball just crossing the line ahead of Robin Fraser's desperate clearance attempt.
On June 22 at Crew Stadium, the Revolution returned to their winning ways, erasing an early deficit before coming back to defeat the Crew.
Edson Buddle got the Crew off to a glorious beginning, turning home from close range after just four minutes. Cornell Glen found Simon Elliott at the top of the area and his weak shot snaked through to a completely unmarked Buddle, who easily turned and beat Matt Reis for his fifth goal.
But the Revolution pulled level through Pat Noonan in the 24th minute. An early Steve Ralston cross was headed down by Noonan into the path of Clint Dempsey, and he carried to the byeline before rolling a low cross through the penalty area. Noonan had continued his run and snuck to the back post alone, and had the easiest of tap-ins for the equalizer.
In first-half stoppage time the Revs hit for a killer goal. After winning a last-ditch corner, Jose Cancela swung it in where Clint Dempsey dove in front of his marker and powered a header under the crossbar for his sixth goal, but first in seven games (47+).
Then midway through the second half Noonan completed his double, also on a corner kick. Dempsey challenged for the ball and it slipped through to Noonan at the back post, and he prodded it past Crew 'keeper Bill Gaudette from the doorstep for the final margin (68).
Here's Andrulis's team (4-3-1-2): Bill Gaudette - Frankie Hejduk, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Stephen Herdsman (David Testo 79) - Mario Rodriguez (Marcus Storey 69), Simon Elliott, Chris Wingert - Kyle Martino (John Wolyniec 72) - Edson Buddle, Cornell Glen.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (James Riley 79) - Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 65) - Pat Noonan, Connally Edozien (Khano Smith 53).
A year ago, the Crew didn't lose to the Revolution in league play, winning the first two meetings between the clubs before they played to a pair of draws.
The Crew won 1-0 on May 15 at home as the only goal came from Edson Buddle (41), then they claimed a 2-1 victory at Gillette Stadium on June 6 (Cancela 62 pen - Hejduk 53, Cunningham 68 pen).
The teams then played to a 1-1 draw in Columbus on July 17 (Martino 45 - Dempsey 31) before they played to a 2-2 draw in New England on Aug. 7 (Ralston 28, Noonan 45 - Martino 20, Buddle 45).
But then in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Revolution claimed a victory in the first leg in Foxborough before they played to a dramatic draw in Columbus a week later as Matt Reis saved a pair of penalty kicks.
Avery John's goal (25) gave the Revolution a 1-0 first-leg victory at home, before Reis's heroics saved the series in a 1-1 draw in the return match as the teams traded late goals (Buddle 92+ - Twellman 81)
While the Revolution have won just 11 games in the nine-year league history between the clubs, six of those victories have come over the past three-plus seasons.
Coaches record: Steve Nicol v CLB: P13 W5 L4 T4 ... Robert Warzycha vs. NE: first game
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The Revolution survived an early onslaught from a Real team still smarting from a 5-1 midweek drubbing at D.C. United before getting the goal they needed for a fourth victory in five matches.
But New England coach Steve Nicol looked the genius when he brought on Khano Smith in the 74th minute. Just two minutes the Bermuda international contributed the match winner, taking a simple pass well in his own half of the field and racing forward on a long run of more than 60 yards, rounding a defender and driving a low shot from the left past RSL 'keeper D.J. Countess inside the far post.
The Revolution moved to an MLS-best 48 points on the campaign, the highest total in club history, and their 14 victories in 2005 is one away from the team record.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made three changes to the team that came back to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory against D.C. United the previous weekend at Gillette Stadium - all caused by international duty. Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston were with the USA for their win against Mexico while Avery John was in the Trinidad & Tobago squad for the victory against Guatemala, as Andy Dorman, Marshall Leonard and Clint Dempsey (back from suspension) replaced them in the team.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - Andy Dorman, Daniel Hernandez, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (Khano Smith 74) - Jose Cancela (Connally Edozien 67/James Riley 88) - Pat Noonan, Clint Dempsey
"To be honest with you, I'm just happy with a win," said Nicol. "I don't think we played particularly well. I don't think was a particularly good game from either team. But, we're obviously happy with a win. (There were) too many misplayed passes really on both teams. Especially on that field, you have to be accurate on your passes or the ball rolls away from you. Sometimes it's ugly, but we'll take it."
The New England Revolution increased their advantage in the Eastern Conference while ensuring the best record in club history, getting the only goal of the match to defeat Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Revolution now have 48 points from 25 matches, six ahead of a second-place tie between the Kansas City Wizards and Chicago Fire in the East and still a point ahead of Western Conference leader San Jose Earthquakes in the race for the Supporters' Shield.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis recorded his eighth shutout of the season, his 20th career shutout, and in doing so set the Revolution all-time record for shutouts by a goalkeeper.
"Shutouts are definitely a team thing, but the goalkeeper gets the credit for them and I know the guys in front of me take a lot of credit in a shutout. It is great to come on the road, shut a team out and get three points," he said.
Smith scored his second goal in as many matches against RSL, and the two were similar, with the Bermudian international finished with aplomb after a solo run down the left flank.
"I like to run at people, and it felt good to open up my legs and take on a defender. I was just trying to get the shot to the far post because I knew goalkeeper was going to cheat and I knew I had to get it by him."
The Revs had previously recorded 45 points in a season twice. In 2000 and 2003, New England recorded the 45th point in the final game of the season, both times against the MetroStars. With seven games remaining in the season, the Revolution are one away from the club's season record for wins.
Bolt midfielder Shalrie Joseph knows the secret to the Revolution's success this season, even through the ugly games.
"We just got to keep our composure and play our style of game. We can play on all kinds of styles of game. We can play pretty style, we can play dirty style what ever they want to play we're going to match it. Our secret is just staying together as a team. We've been working well for each other nobody is taking personal goals out of this and everybody is just working hard for the team. We realize we have a goal in mind and we just want to get to the final and then win the cup."
The last-place Columbus Crew kept touch with the remainder of the East with a third consecutive victory - all by shutout - this time a dominant victory against Chivas USA who were all but eliminated from postseason consideration.
Cornell Glen gave the Crew the lead in the 34th minute, claiming a poorly-hit clearance and racing forward alone on goal, slipping the ball under charging Chivas USA 'keeper Sergio Garcia (making his MLS debut) at the edge of the area.
John Wolyniec then scored twice in 10 minutes to kill off the match. On the hour, Glen raced onto a long ball played down the left flank and pulled a low pass back from the byeline where Wolyniec came rushing forward to slam home a low shot.
Then in the 69th minute, Glen burst forward on the left and again sent a low angled shot goalward, this time kicked out by Garcia. But Wolyniec was quickest to the rebound and drove it into the back of the net.
Crew boss Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that defeated the Kansas City Wizards 1-0 on the road the previous Friday. Kyle Martino was suspended, meaning Marcus Storey took his place in the three-pronged Crew attack.
Here's Warzycha's team (3-4-2-1): Jonny Walker - Chad Marshall, Robin Fraser, Mark Schulte,- Chris Henderson, Simon Elliott, Danny Szetela, David Testo (Chris Wingert 85) - Marcus Storey, Cornell Glen (Mario Rodriguez 75) - John Wolyniec (Knox Cameron 82)
"You have to be happy; we won 3-0 away from home. I think Chivas played a decent game; we just caught them on the break. Fortunately for us, we created a few chances and we capitalized on them," Warzycha said.
The Columbus Crew continued their late-season charge toward a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, winning for the third consecutive match and fifth in their last seven, a dominant 3-0 victory against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. The Crew are still in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points from 24 matches, now 11 points out of fourth place and the final playoff spot with eight matches remaining, trailing fifth-place MetroStars by just four points.
Playing alongside Glen paid dividends for Wolyniec. "Cornell is so fast and I just have to be confident that he's going to beat his man and try to put myself in a good spot and see where the ball ends up and try to put it away," said Wolyniec, whose two goals give him five on the year. "When you have three forwards and the guys on the outside have as much speed as Cornell and Marcus (Storey) if you get the ball to them early, it's off to the races."
"Wolyniec was in the right place at the right time, he scored two beautiful goals," said Warzycha. "Every time he got the ball, he did something good with it and that was huge for us. ... Cornell is fast and when he's into the game, he's one of the best players on the field."
Now the Crew hope to carry their momentum forward through a tough stretch of three matches in 11 days, two of which are against the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution. "Going into New England is going to be tough," said Glen. "We have to go in there and try to do what the coach wants us to. Coach Warzycha has good ideas, he knows what he wants and we just have to go out and do it and hopefully we'll come out on top."
Said Warzycha: "The team is playing better and we're scoring the goals and that's what's important. Whether we get to the playoffs or not, that's another question. We would like to be winning game after game after game and see what happens next. The next game is against New England and it's the same priority, go and win it."
Glen's double came on a night where Trinidad & Tobago kept alive their dream of a first-ever trip to the World Cup finals with a victory against Guatemala.
"I'm trying to get back in form and score some goals to get back on the national team and also to make it to the playoffs," said the Trinidad and Tobago international. "That's what's driving me right now."
The Crew have won five of their last seven matches - also all by shutout. "Chad [Marshall] played very strong, our whole defense played very strong," said Warzycha. "He had a very good game and if he keeps playing the way he did tonight, he's going to be one of the best defenders in the league."
After completing his assessment pursuant to the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health policy, Edson Buddle will be available for duty this weekend. Warzycha wouldn't say when Buddle might return to the lineup, but it doesn't sound likely that he'll play this week at New England. "He still has to get fit," Warzycha said to The Columbus Dispatch. "He didn't do much the last two weeks. He needs some training."