MLS regular season | Game #21
New England Revolution at Columbus Crew
Saturday 23 July | 7:30 p.m. ET
Lower.com field | Columbus, Ohio
Watch: WSBK-TV38, myRITV (Rhode Island)
– Talent: Brad Feldman (Play-by-Play), Charlie Davies (Analyst)
Listen to: 98.5 The Sports Hub (English), 1260 AM Nossa Radio (Portuguese)
New England Revolution
10th in the Eastern Conference (6-7-7, 25 pts)
Last Result | 2-1 loss at Philadelphia Union
After going 10 games unbeaten (4-0-6) from late April to early July, the Revs now suffered back-to-back away losses to the top two teams in the Eastern Conference: New York City FC and Philadelphia Union. Despite these setbacks, Gustavo Bou has remained red-hot and has scored three goals in his last two games, taking his tally to seven goals and one assist in his last eight appearances.
Bou’s goal in Philadelphia — the result of a 15-pass sequence that nine different Revolution players went through — put the visitors ahead in the second half, but they conceded twice in the closing stages to suffer a 2-1 loss . It was another frustrating night for the Revs, who are now down to 5-4-4 when they score their first goal of the season after going 17-0-3 in such situations during last year’s Supporters’ Shield win had.
6th in the Eastern Conference (7-5-8, 29 pts)
Last Result | 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati
Columbus has steadily climbed the Eastern Conference rankings in recent weeks, moving up to sixth place after Sunday night’s 2-0 win over rivals FC Cincinnati. The win extended the Crew’s unbeaten streak to eight games (4-0-4) as they have not suffered a loss since mid-May when they were beaten by current Supporters’ Shield league leaders Los Angeles FC.
The recent arrival of Young DP forward Cucho Hernandez (scoring four goals in his first three MLS games) has sparked the Crew’s attack, but their defense continues to form the basis of their success. Columbus has conceded just 22 goals in 20 games, the third-least in MLS and has conceded just one goal in their last three games at Lower.com Field.
Revolutionary striker Giacomo Vrioni
Giacomo Vrioni will not feature in the starting XI on Saturday, having arrived at Foxborough late last week and joined his Revolution team-mates at the training ground for the first time on Tuesday, but the presence of the 23-year-old striker could still be a boost give a group that wants to get back on the road to success.
Vrioni arrives as a DP signing from Juventus FC after spending the 2021/22 season on loan at WSG Tirol in Austria’s Bundesliga, where he was joint top scorer in the league with 19 goals. The 6-foot-2 Italian can score in a variety of ways and could be a dangerous weapon off the bench at Lower.com Field.
Team forward Cucho Hernandez
Lucas Zelarayán has long been the focus at Columbus and he continues to be a driving force for the crew with five goals and nine assists in 16 appearances. But the Revs must also be prepared for the attacking threat from Cucho Hernandez, who scored in the win over Cincinnati early Sunday night, becoming the first player in MLS history to score his first four goals in under 90 minutes of play.
Cucho, who has eight years’ experience at just 23, scored his first three MLS goals off the bench before starting last weekend and scoring the decisive goal after 64 minutes with a skillful header from a Zelarayán free-kick scored .
Andrew Farrell will return from a one-game suspension this weekend and bolster Revolution’s defensive line, while goaltender Jacob Jackson – who made 14 caps for Revolution II in his rookie season – is the only player on New England’s availability report listed as having a leg injury.
Giacomo Vrioni’s availability for Saturday remains to be seen as Bruce Arena said the DP striker, 23, will need time to adjust to his new surroundings and build his fitness after a long break from games.
“He just came in,” Arena said of Vrioni, who landed in Boston last Friday and joined his new teammates at the training ground for the first time on Tuesday morning. “He hasn’t played for a long time. If he is traveling with us and is on a match day list he would only be available for limited minutes.
“He’s going to need some time to recover to fitness as he probably hasn’t played a game in a couple of months, I would guess, so it will take a bit.”
Saturday’s hosts only name one player in their availability report: Artur, who is questionable with a right leg injury. The 26-year-old central midfielder has started 13 games this season but has not featured since the end of May.
WHAT YOU SAY
Bruce Arena, athletic director and head coach of the New England Revolution
“We’ve been known to lose a lot of points by conceding goals at the end of games and a lot of those mistakes were mental mistakes, technical mistakes and in a lot of cases I can’t even say I take my hat off and tip to the other Team, they played a great game. We’ve only had a few bad games so it’s more mental than anything and if we can clean that up we can have a good last 14 games of the season.
Brandon Bye, defender of the New England Revolution
“Just watch a little film about (Lucas Zelarayán and Cucho Hernandez), stay accountable on the field and watch these guys to make sure we know where they are at all times. That’s something you have to do as a defender. And then knowing their tendencies – knowing what foot they have, where they like to make space and find space in the box, stuff like that. But yes, we look at that and then we play the game at the weekend.”