FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A visit by the LA Galaxy usually presents a high-profile opportunity to make a bold statement in front of a hefty crowd.
New England defender Darrius Barnes said he and his teammates are ready to go out and prove their credentials against the current Western Conference leaders (Saturday, 8 pm ET, Galavisión).
“We're very excited to get out there and play,” Barnes told MLSsoccer.com after the Revs trained on Friday morning. “It'll definitely be a good game for us to go out and show and prove what kind of team we are. We definitely feel that we're a better team than we've presented in the past couple of weeks.”
A similar message permeated throughout the squad on Friday as the Revs gathered as a group for the first time since a reserve-laden side lost 5-0 at Sporting Kansas City in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play-in match on Wednesday night.
The brief session allowed all of the players to get on the same page and plot out a game plan to end their four-match run without a goal from the run of play in MLS action and stop a Galaxy side that has won three consecutive matches.
“I think today was huge, mentally,” Revolution midfielder Stephen McCarthy said. “It's the first time we've had the whole team together as a team on the field this week. We stayed after and talked a little about the game. It's a huge game. We have to be mentally ready. Everyone said, let's do this, let's try to attack in this game and put something together going forward.”
While the Revs will once again hope to send additional numbers into the attacking third, they must do so without Ousmane Dabo (right adductor strain) and Marko Perović (left knee injury) to aid those efforts. Kheli Dube (whiplash from a car accident earlier this week) and Kenny Mansally (right foot contusion) could also miss out after landing on the injury report as doubtful on Friday afternoon.
Those injuries will not force Revolution coach Steve Nicol to alter his lineup from Saturday's 2-1 defeat at San Jose if he wants to keep the same starting 11, but Galaxy boss Bruce Arena is expected to introduce at least a few changes after his side's 1-0 victory over Houston on Wednesday.
David Beckham should return to the lineup after missing the victory against the Dynamo to play in former Manchester United teammate Gary Neville's testimonial match in England on Tuesday, but Juan Pablo Ángel will miss out after remaining in Southern California to rest.
Although the seasoned Colombian striker will not feature, the Revs must still keep their guard high to combat the expected front duo of Chad Barrett and Miguel López and every other player in a Galaxy shirt, according to Nicol.
“If you're honest and you have a choice, you'd rather not play against Ángel,” Nicol said. “But, either way, you're going to be playing against somebody who wants to do well, give 100 percent and try and cause you trouble. Whatever the name is on the jersey, you still have to make sure that you treat everybody the same, do the right things, make the right decisions and close down whoever it is early.”
Those maxims apply to Beckham (tied for the MLS lead in assists with six) and Landon Donovan (the league leader in scoring with eight goals) in particular. Whether it means following Donovan as he embarks on a lengthy run with the ball at his feet or floats into dangerous spaces or sticking to Beckham as he drops deeper in midfield to find space and ping passes, the Revs must limit space and press relentlessly to secure the desired result.
“I feel like we have to get after them all game,” Barnes said. “They're a good team. We can't just sit back and be on our heels. We can't let them just be pushing forward. If we can come at them in the first couple of minutes of the game, shock them and put some pressure on them, it'd definitely help us settle into the game. Hopefully, we can get a nice goal and try to get an early lead.”