FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tape study usually plays a significant role in New England's preparation for an upcoming opponent, but it may not help much when the Revolution visit Houston on Saturday (8:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
Revolution coach Jay Heaps cited all of the Dynamo's usual strengths – the creative influence of Brad Davis and Boniek García, the menacing threats from set pieces and the rugged defensive work – as he discussed his side's preparations and reviewed the challenge ahead when prompted on Thursday.
The rookie head coach said he knows those constant factors may be deployed differently as Houston boss Dominic Kinnear attempts to procure the desired response after an uncharacteristic 3-1 defeat at Philadelphia on Sunday.
“Yeah, I think it impacts it,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com of the Dynamo loss. “Dom's a pretty savvy guy, a pretty smart guy. They've been playing a 4-3-3. I would never put it over them to go back to their traditional 4-4-2 that they played earlier in the year. From a tactical standpoint, we're ready for whatever they're going to do. From a commitment standpoint, you know that going in there is going to be going into the lion's den.”
Houston has yet to lose a league match at BBVA Compass Stadium and will have every incentive to maintain that record heading into the weekend.
Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber – a potential inclusion in the starting XI with Ryan Guy away on international duty with Guam and Clyde Simms uncertain to feature with a calf injury – said he expects the Dynamo to play like a hungry team trying to secure its postseason future.
“I think they're right in the thick of things for the last playoff spot,” Feilhaber said. “Third through sixth, or even seventh, is really tight. I'm sure they're going to be going for it, playing in front of their home fans.”
It won't be easy for the injury-riddled Revs to ride that wave of emotion and silence the crowd with a victory. Heaps said the occasion will provide a good test for his players as they start build toward next season.
“It's a great experience for our guys, playing on the road in a place like Houston where they are undefeated,” Heaps said. “It's a pretty good opportunity in itself to see where we measure ourselves as a team, as players and as individuals.”