In a season clouded by uncertainty, Columbus Crew SC continue to give fans a reason to smile. The Black & Gold are riding the strength of a five-match unbeaten streak as they head to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Revolution on Saturday night.
Crew SC have won three of its last four matches and completed an impressive and buy week of work by capturing seven points out of a possible nine. To continue this form will require something special as the Revs boast a record of 4-1-1 at Gillette Stadium in 2018.
New England come into Saturday’s contest in good form, winning two of its last three matches. The only loss coming on the road at Stade Saputo against the Montreal Impact. Revolution head coach Brad Friedel made adjustments to his lineup and has his team back on track.
Let’s take a look and see what Crew SC can expect when it hits the road on Saturday night to take on New England.
Revolution at a glance
Leading Scorer: Teal Bunbury (5)
Assists Leader: Cristian Penilla (4)
The previous matchup
These two clubs previously met on April 21st at MAPFRE Stadium. Crew SC came into the match in poor form, going winless in four and looked to reverse its fortune. The Black & Gold earned a tough point with the Revs by virtue of a 2-2 draw.
Columbus struggled to maintain any advantage it captured as New England was quick to equalize after each go ahead goal. The Black & Gold defense didn’t look up to code in this match, as some questionable decision making allowed the Revs to keep it close.
This was mentioned in the buildup to the first match against the Revolution but it bears repeating once more. The Revs have exceptional attacking movement. Friedel and his staff have all of his players moving in sync towards goal and looking to take advantage of space when it presents itself. It isn’t uncommon to see New England use diagonal balls in order to advance players into more dangerous parts of the pitch.
The Revolution aren’t bashful with utilizing one-touch passing to encourage quick movement as well. The cohesiveness of the Revs attack has improved since their last encounter with Columbus and it will be intriguing to see how the Crew SC defense handles things on Saturday night.
When New England is hot, the team is hot. When the Revs are cold, it’s not a pretty sight. It seems like a mixed bag every time the Revolution step on the pitch. New England moves well defensively at times but inexplicably struggle to maintain discipline.
In its game with Montreal, the Revolution lost possession and were hit on the counter attack numerous times. When the Revs lose possession, most of the backline pinches together and closes down on the attacking player. It’s not uncommon to see communication breakdown and one player miss his assignment to pinch and close down on the defender.
Banking on Bunbury (again)
When fans look at the stat sheet for New England, they expect to see players like Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo leading the team in goals, but that isn’t the case this season. Teal Bunbury has come out of nowhere to be a hero for the Revolution.
Bunbury plays aggressively, makes wonderful attacking runs, and it’s afraid to have a shot on goal. There is nothing more dangerous in the game of soccer than a confident striker. Crew SC need to remain on guard and not let Bunbury run rampant on Saturday night.
How Crew SC win
The Black & Gold’s attack had its best output of the 2018 season last weekend against the Chicago Fire. With Federico Higuain pulling the strings once more this week, expect Niko Hansen, Cristian Martinez and Mike Grella to steal the show as they work to get the ball into dangerous areas. Relief will need to come for Gyasi Zardes as the Revolution will look to put a body on the Crew SC forward.
Columbus will need to keep an eye on Cristian Penilla and Bunbury and keep turning them away from goal. Limiting the chances of these two forwards can go a long way in helping Columbus capture valuable road points on Saturday night.