FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Getting points on the road is never easy, and New England know that to do so in Columbus, they’ll have to be just as physical and rugged as the East-topping Crew.
New England defender A.J. Soares said he believes the Revolution — unbeaten in their past three road encounters — must apply pressure from the opening whistle in order to secure a result on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I think we're going to go in there and give them a battle,” Soares told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. “It's going to be a major battle, a physical game. It just comes down to who goes out there, starts the game strong and puts in more minutes of a good performance.”
Opposing teams have found it difficult to break down the Crew at home this season. Robert Warzycha's side has lost just once at Crew Stadium as part of a surprising campaign that currently has them perched atop the East.
Although the Crew will likely have to play this match without influential midfielder Eddie Gaven (right leg contusion), they generally rely on a collective and pragmatic approach that has seen them find success despite a raft of injuries so far this season.
“They're real solid,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “They've got a wee bit of pace and they've certainly got plenty of strength. They're a big team and they don't make an awful lot of mistakes. If you do make [mistakes], they've got players capable of punishing you. We have to be really solid and make sure we don't give too much away.”
Soares' return from a one-match ban should help the Revs in their pursuit of a clean sheet. The defender will likely partner Darrius Barnes in central defense, though Ryan Cochrane presents another option.
Nicol must also alter his midfield setup with Sainey Nyassi ruled out with a right MCL sprain. Zak Boggs could deputize, but Ryan Guy will also press his claims for a spot in the team.
The chosen players will hope to continue a decent run of form at Crew Stadium in recent seasons — two wins in the past four visits — and prolong their recent streak of road success.
“We've had some success there over the past couple of years and we've had some bad games, so it should be interesting,” Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan said. “They'll be a hard team. I'm sure we'll be kicking each other all over the field, but we'll see what happens.”