The MLS playoffs are still a month away, but Gillette Stadium will have a playoff feel on Saturday when the New England Revolution meet the Houston Dynamo in a battle of Eastrn Conference playoff contenders.
The Dynamo sit in fourth place in the East after posting a pair of impressive victories to climb back into playoff position, but Houston will face a New England side that is extremely tough at home and desperate to regain its place in the East’s top five.
Houston will have to try and contain a Revs attack that has been generating goals on a consistent basis, netting multiple scores in five of their past six matches. The attacking trio of Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen is clicking well and should provide plenty of challenges for the Dynamo midfield and defense to handle.
Ricardo Clark has been enjoying a good run of form for Houston in recent weeks, and will have the task of trying to contain Rowe’s playmaking while Jermaine Taylor tries to keep tabs on Fagundez.
Houston’s attack has shown more quality in recent weeks, with Oscar Boniek Garcia playing more like the standout 2012 version of himself. The Brad Davis-Garcia wing tandem is a handful for any defense to handle, but the matchup against New England’s fullbacks will be especially important for both sides.
Revs rookie Andrew Farrell is enjoying a Rookie of the Year-caliber season at right back, but he will face one of the toughest challenges in the league in trying to contain Dynamo left winger Brad Davis.
Another matchup to watch will be Houston forwards Will Bruin and Giles Barnes vs. Revs centerback Jose Goncalves and A.J. Soares. Dom Kinnear’s move to partner Barnes with Bruin at forward produced a five-goal romp over Chivas USA, but New England’s centerbacks are a tough tandem to deal with, particularly at home.
Houston hasn’t traditionally been the strongest road team, but its recent 1-0 victory in Philadelphia should provide some confidence, as can the Dynamo’s victory in their last visit to Gillette Stadium, a 2-1 victory on July 13th.