FOXBORO, MA - APRIL 2: Shalrie Joseph #21 of the New England Revolution battles Jeremy Hall #17 of the Portland Timbers at Gillette Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Shalrie Joseph and the New England Revolution will be hoping for some home cooking when they welcome the Portland Timbers to Gillette Stadium tonight at 4 PM EST for their MLS home opener. (TV/Radio: CSN/98.5)
The New England Revolution are all set to open the gates at Gillette Stadium and welcome the Portland Timbers to the East Coast tonight for the Revs home opener. New England is returning from a harrowing road trip, where back-to-back losses to San Jose and Kansas City left them 0-2-0 in the young 2012 season. Portland, meanwhile, sports a 1-0-1 record and is coming off a great win over Philadelphia in the first week of the season, followed by a creditable draw with Dallas last week.
New England needs to truly act like the home team in this match. The Revs have to dictate the tempo and manner of play and control possession so they may impose their will upon the Timbers. Portland has started poorly in the first half in both of their matches this season, so the Revs should look to jump on them early and put the game away before half time.
Portland, on the other hand, appears to be a young team that is gelling quite nicely. Kris Boyd is their number-one threat now, and the Scottish Premier League's all-time leading scorer will capitalize on any defensive mistake around the net. It's been said that all the man can do is score, but if that's his only talent, he's polished it to a mirror shine. Other dangerous players include winger Kalif Alhassan, forwards Jorge Perlaza and Darlington Nagbe, midfielder Diego Chara, and captain Jack Jewsbury. Any one of these players, plus a handful of others, could unlock the Revolution defense and it will require all hands on deck to protect the nets at the Razor tonight.
New England once again finds itself with an injury crisis at the back, but things are looking particularly bleak considering that Stephen McCarthy is serving a red-card suspension for his dismissal last week. John Lozano and Darrius Barnes are also ruled out, along with Zak Boggs, Sainey Nyassi, and Benny Feilhaber, who has not recovered sufficiently from a peroneal strain to take the pitch this weekend. Including the newly-arrived Florian Lechner, this leaves the Revs with just five listed defenders available (most of which are fullbacks, not center-backs), but there's a solid chance Lechner won't feature, leaving Jay Heaps with a serious quandary that may result in a switch to a three-man back line, unless Shalrie Joseph or Clyde Simms slot into defense. Jose Moreno has also arrived, but is not expected to feature, either.
The Revs are 0-1-1 against Portland since the Timbers entered the league, losing 3-0 at Jeld-Wen Field and drawing 1-1 at Gillette in 2012. The suspended Stephen McCarthy is the only active Revolution player with a goal against the Timbers.
The match will be televised live at 4 PM EST on CSN, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the live radio call.