FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The recent tactical adjustments in Colorado haven't gone unnoticed in New England.
Rapids coach Oscar Pareja has transitioned his side toward a 4-4-2 formation over the past couple matches after opting for a 4-3-3 set-up during the first few games of his tenure. Most of the players and the emphasis on possession and technique remain the same, but the production in front of goal has improved significantly.
The evidence provided by last Saturday's 4-0 win over Chivas USA – a close match separated in the late stages by Colorado's potency on the counter – and the potential uncertainty surrounding Pareja's team selection in midweek gave Revolution coach Jay Heaps plenty to ponder as he prepared his side for tonight's match at Gillette Stadium (8 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“We've watched all of the games,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “We've prepared for [a possible switch in formation]. We've given our team an educated [guess] about what they're going to lean toward and the lineup they're going with. But, in midweek, they could have left certain guys at home. We'll find out more [Wednesday] about what they're going to do. We'll have our game plan ready.”
The usual objectives – obtain and retain possession to dictate the terms of the match – still apply for the Revs, but they will also have to disrupt the Rapids' passing game, exploit the potential absence of Marvell Wynne (questionable after suffering a right hamstring strain during a training session on a Gillette Stadium practice field on Tuesday) in central defense and guard against the counter to snap their three-match losing streak.
“They're a lot better than what their record says,” Revolution defender A.J. Soares said. “They have some really, really good players. They're very dangerous. They're really an athletic, pacy team. We have to be aware of that, but, most importantly, we just have to bring our own game. We're a really good team when we play well and we just have to do that.”
Even if Heaps opts to change his lineup a bit to compensate for potential fitness issues ahead of Saturday's visit to Real Salt Lake, the Revs still hope to improve from the outset and use that second half in Harrison – when they did a better job of generating chances against RBNY – as a springboard to collect all three points at home against the Rapids.
“A lot of us have been talking and [saying] that we want to put Saturday behind us and build on that second half,” Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms said. “The second half was a lot better and we were playing with a lot more confidence. We have to continue to get better.”