New York Red Bulls: A tie by the Columbus Crew allowed the Red Bulls to keep their advantage in the Eastern Conference despite a miserable loss to the Philadelphia Union. A victory over the Revolution this weekend will ensure only their second Eastern Conference regular season crown and home-field advantage through the playoffs.
New England Revolution: Shalrie Joseph continued his surging end to the season by scoring the match's only goal on Saturday. Again he showed why he's one of the MLS all-time greats with a ghosting run from midfield and a delicate touch to head the ball over Jimmy Nielsen, allowing him to slot home to an empty net. The Revolution captain bosses the midfield and possesses incredible awareness and vision along with a fair bit of skill, and the last five games or so have been a showcase for that talent.
New York: A run of three wins, two ties, and a loss since the start of September shroud a spotty run of form. The defeat to the Union hopefully reawakens the side that's been struggling to score over the last three matches. An injury to Thierry Henry that will keep him out of Thursday's action will not help, however, as Hans Backe will likely be forced to opt for an unsuccessful 4-5-1 formation.
New England: Not much went wrong against Kansas City this past weekend, but if something had to be singled out it would probably be discipline and physical play. The Revs have been one of the most physically imposing sides in MLS this season and Saturday was no different, but it nearly boiled over in the penalty area when Kei Kamara and Craig Rocastle appeared to take some exception to Shalrie Joseph and Darrius Barnes. Rough tackles caused some escalation in Houston two weeks ago as well, ending with the dismissal of Geoff Cameron for a jaw-jarring shove and elbow on Pat Phelan. Make no mistake, the Revs haven't been innocent in any of this, and several players have gotten away with probable red cards and penalties so far this campaign. With their three DPs, New York can definitely be labeled one of MLS's darling teams – no one will admit it, but the Revolution should expect the referees to be less forgiving of hard tackles at Red Bull Arena this week.
New York: As mentioned above, Backe - due to the injury of Henry - has been forced to play with Juan Pablo Angel as his side's lone forward, which isolates the Colombian. The center midfield trio of Mehdi Ballouchy, Rafa Marquez, and Tony Tchani doesn't seem to click as well as one in a typical 4-4-2. Backe may try that formation, but with Salou Ibrahim partnering Angel at forward. The introduction of the Ghanaian sparked the listless Red Bulls when he came on in the second half in Chester.
New England: It goes without saying at this point that the Revolution will line up in the 4-4-2. Pat Phelan and Cory Gibbs make their return from suspension this week and should immediately slot back into the lineup at their preferred positions, probably relegating Seth Sinovic and Jason Griffiths to the bench. On that note, New England will be dressing a full 18-man matchday squad for only the fifteenth time this season thanks to the aforementioned duo's return and Nico Colaluca's recovery from knee surgery. Expect the usual suspects to make their starts and appearances.
New York: The Red Bulls have been awful against the Revolution, having not beaten New England in 16 encounters or since they were named the Metrostars in 2005. Splitting the series with the Revs will show how much the franchise has changed having already won the Atlantic Cup – the faux-tournament with D.C. United – earlier in the season.
New England: In short, New England has dominated New York throughout MLS history. They own the regular-season head-to-head record with an excellent 25-16-11 mark, including a respectable 8-12-7 on the road in New York. More impressive, though, is their unbeaten 8-0-6 record against the Red Bulls in their last 14 regular season meetings. Though marred by Preston Burpo's horrific leg injury, the last clash between the two sides was a 3-2 victory for the Revolution and also had the distinction of being Bobby Shuttleworth's first MLS appearance in relief of the stricken Burpo. New England needs to channel this run of good fortune against the Red Bulls if they want to end the season on a winning note.
New York: The Red Bulls will trudge through a battle with the Revs, but will pull off a victory with Juan Pablo Angel's goal being the sole breakthrough.
New England: The Red Bulls are one of the better sides in MLS, and despite having lost to the Revs early in the season they look the clear favorites Thursday night. It will be New England's first trip to Red Bull Arena, and the previous incarnation that visited Gillette this summer lacked Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez. The Revolution can realistically hope that Hans Backe will elect to field a second-choice XI in an effort to keep his stars fresh for the postseason, but there isn't much in it for the Revs to finish the season with their first three-win streak. It's a dangerously optimistic call, but the Revolution should be able to fortify their poor road record with a 1-1 away draw.
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