FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Several interested parties on the New England Revolution spent the week poring over the film and studying up on how to sidetrack Western Conference leaders FC Dallas ahead of their encounter on Saturday afternoon (4 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
They pondered the potential selection issues created by Blas Pérez's return from international duties. They reviewed how FCD compiled three wins out of four to start the season. They sifted through the necessary information to devise their approach.
One point came up time and time again: even with the diversity of the threats posed by FCD going forward, the Revs needed to pay careful attention to the potent mixture of players in the front four to thrive in this encounter.
“The tricky thing with Dallas – if you watch a lot of their games – is that they don't necessarily outplay the other team,” Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms told MLSsoccer.com. “They have some very dangerous attackers, some very special players. And that's something we have to watch. The biggest thing is that when we have the ball, we have to know where those players are. They can change a game at any moment with their speed and their talent.”
Revolution coach Jay Heaps said the pace possessed by the likes of Fabián Castillo and Jackson places a premium on awareness and positioning. Simms noted the Revs will have to take special care in possession to avoid starting FCD's work on the counter. And, most importantly, all of those players – including influential schemer David Ferreira and prolific striker Kenny Cooper – must fall under the auspices of the correct markers.
“For us, there has to be the proper matchup,” Heaps said. “We have to make sure we're aware of the key guys. I think they've shown they can score a couple of different ways: they've had a couple of set piece goals, a couple of goals against the run of action, a couple of goals where they've developed it nicely, built it, and possessed it in the attack. They are a complete team.”
Although the Revs haven't quite found their range in the final third just yet (one goal in three games), they do believe they have found a way to keep opposing teams out, according to Revolution forward Chad Barrett.
“Defensively, it doesn't seem like we really need to change a lot,” Barrett said. “We've given up one goal in three games. That speaks for itself. And that was on a set piece.”
Heaps will check on the fitness of three potential starters – Matt Reis (questionable – left knee irritation), Kelyn Rowe (questionable – right hamstring tightness and left knee irritation) and Juan Toja (questionable – left knee irritation) – before he tasks his players with maintaining their solidity and producing a first home win of the campaign.