FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England defender Kevin Alston knows the Revs will face a stiff test in Wednesday night's Herbalife World Football Challenge opener against Manchester United (8 pm, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
“They're great,” Alston, who played in last year's All-Star game against the Red Devils, told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “You see them on TV all of the time. They have world-class players, a world-class coach and staff. They know how to play the right way. They can move it and they can finish. They're a good team all around.”
The reigning Premier League champions brought a strong squad for their five-match US tour and expect to show off that quality against the Revolution in their first friendly of the new season.
New England coach Steve Nicol said the Revs can take some positives out of the match even if they fail cope with United's approach and secure a victory against the Champions League runners-up.
“We're going into the game knowing that we're playing against one of the best teams on the planet,” Nicol said. “We're realistic. We want to do well in the game. Can we win the game? Absolutely we can. But what we want to get out of the game is learning something from them and have some good spells in the game where we move well and pass it. If we do that, then we'll feel confident about the game.”
Building that confidence remains an important objective for a Revolution side seeking to improve its form during the second half of the season. That goal, however, must also fall in line with the wider picture ahead of Sunday's clash against Philadelphia.
With the Union poised to visit Gillette Stadium in short order, the Revs cannot afford to ignore the fixture list as they attempt to manage their personnel and plan for upcoming matches. Those demands could lead Nicol to involve homegrown player Diego Fagundez in his squad and use his substitutes liberally as the match progresses.
“Basically, you'd like to go in there and have a good showing,” Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane said. “You'd like to get a win obviously, but getting in there, having a good showing, keeping everybody healthy and moving onto Philly is what the big picture is. It's fun for our fans and it's fun for the players — and it's great experience — but the most important thing is the league at this point.”
Even though MLS remains the top priority and United are expected to emerge victorious on the night, the Revs still believe that they can overcome the significant challenge Manchester United pose and replicate the victory Sporting Kansas City captured last summer.
“That's why we play the game,” Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis said. “I'd like to think [we can win the game].”