FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A quick scan of the usual Houston teamsheet reveals the imposing threat the Dynamo poses on set pieces.
Dominic Kinnear's side offers a dual-pronged threat from dead ball situations: Brad Davis offers reliable and threatening service with his left foot, while a host of large and physical players surge forward to meet those tempting crosses.
The prospect of coping with such an overt threat (two set-piece goals in nine matches, 14 set-piece goals last year) isn't a particularly appetizing one for the Revolution. New England have conceded four goals from set pieces this season (two from corner kicks, two from indirect free kicks) and have struggled to cope with robust forwards inside the attacking third.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps said the Revs are working to address their liabilities in dead ball situations ahead of the Dynamo's visit on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“It's a work in progress,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. “I thought it was good last week [against Vancouver], but it's not something where we're going to stop working on it. We want to defend, we want to attack. We want to do both and we want to get better at all of the components of our set pieces.”
Partnership forming between Brettschneider and Sène
With José Moreno sidelined with a right calf strain for last Saturday's 4-1 victory over Vancouver, Heaps opted to partner Blake Brettschneider and Saër Sène up front against the Whitecaps.
The two strikers hadn't featured together since the team's 1-0 victory over Portland on March 24, but Heaps said the revived combination played its part in the Revolution's third home victory in four tries.
“They did a nice job defensively for us,” Heaps said. “Offensively, I thought we were putting a lot of pressure on their back line. When you go back and look at the film, we had a lot of half-chances that were from Saër and from Blake.”
The extra week together in training – plus the presumably continued absence of Moreno as he works his way back to full fitness – should give Brettschneider and Sène more of an opportunity to cement their tandem.
Brettschneider said he believes that he and Sène complement each other well (Brettschneider as a target player, Sène as a mobile option looking to link up and run in behind), but he also noted that there is room for growth as the two players log more minutes together.
“I don't think it's 100 percent where it needs to be, but I think it's well on its way to being a good partnership,” Brettschneider said.
Harvard or Hershey awaits Revs for third-round Open Cup date
The outcome of next Tuesday's second-round clash between Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) and Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) in Harrisburg, Pa. will dictate where the Revolution enter the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on May 29.
If the City Islanders emerge victorious at home, then they will host the Revs at Hershey Park Stadium in Hershey, Pa. That meeting would also mark the first time the two clubs have met in the Open Cup since the City Islanders defeated the Revs, 2-1 in extra time at this stage back in 2009.
If the Rough Riders managed to pull the upset in central Pennsylvania, then the Revs will host the tie at Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium in Cambridge, Mass. The match would mark the first competitive game hosted by the Revs at the 2,500-seat stadium since Harvard opened the revamped, soccer-specific facility in 2010.