FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England coach Steve Nicol said his side must expect to absorb a significant amount of pressure as it prepares to play FC Dallas on Saturday night (8:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live).
“First and foremost, we have to be on our game defensively,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com. “They'll get people forward and they'll come at you. We have to be ready to withstand that. Once we do that, we can get it going the other way.”
FCD enter the contest on an eight-match unbeaten run despite the absence of 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira. Even with Ferreira out of the lineup, FCD have continued their commitment to pushing numbers into the attack and scoring goals on a regular basis.
New England must find a way to reduce FCD's ability to conjure up-sweeping attacking moves to pick up a result, according to Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph.
“They send a lot of numbers, they have a lot of speed and they have a lot of creative guys, especially in the attacking third,” Joseph said. “We just have to stay compact defensively and don't allow them any space and time on the ball.”
That general formula applies more strictly in this case given FCD's speed all over the field and their willingness to throw their fullbacks into the attack.
“[It's about] good shape and good decisions,” Nicol said. “If you do both of those things, you have a chance to defend well.”
The players charged with that task will change for the first time in four matches with Benny Feilhaber (sprained right ankle) ruled out for three to six weeks.
Ousmane Dabo could replace Feilhaber in central midfield after recovering from a right adductor strain. Dabo declared himself available for the squad on Thursday and Nicol said he plans to use the French midfielder for some portion of the game despite his lack of full match fitness.
Nicol could weigh other potential changes — Didier Domi is currently pressing for a return at left back in place of the recently preferred Darrius Barnes — to the side as the Revs hope to continue their winning ways against Dallas (22-10-3 all-time, including 11-5-2 in visits to the Metroplex).
In order to prolong this extended streak of success, the Revs must possess the ball to ward off the impact of temperatures expected to reach the high 90s and strike early to break a five-match run without a goal from the run of play.
“When we get the ball, we have to be better with it,” Joseph said. “A team like [FCD] that attacks a lot doesn't want to defend. If we can be better with the ball and get that early goal, I think the first goal is going to help us settle in. Then we can relax and play our style of game.”