The New England Revolution have yet to pick up three points from an Eastern Conference team this season, something they’ll get another crack at when they host the Columbus Crew on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
It was just two short weeks ago that the Crew took down the Revs 2-0 at MAPFRE Stadium, extending New England’s winless streak to five games in a critical early season “six-pointer.”
That streak got snapped last Saturday night as the Revolution pummeled struggling Real Salt Lake 4-0. But Columbus’ visit to Foxborough this weekend carries big implications. How the Revolution handle business at home on Sunday will be a pretty good barometer for which side of the red line they belong.
More than one third of the season is over and the Revolution are just outside playoff position, so getting their first set of intra-conference three points against the Crew will go a long way.
A loss or even a tie would largely prove what the first part of the season has shown: that the Revs aren’t a playoff team.
- There are high expectations of Kei Kamara—being a designated player will do that—but he hasn’t really met them since he joined the Revolution from Columbus mid-season last year. Last weekend’s game against Salt Lake was his best of the season, but those performances have been few and far between. With Juan Agudelo carrying a wait-and-see injury, Kamara has a chance against his former team to be the Revolution’s main spearhead. So far, he’s been passive. He ranks 19th in shots and recorded just three goals. While you could make the case that his holdup play has been a boon for his teammates, Kamara’s primary responsibility is to score. He has 89 career MLS goals to his name, after all.
- It’s got to be personal for Kamara this weekend. Will he be out for blood? The last time he faced his former team was last season, in Columbus, and his old fans heckled him and chanted “Ola Kamara, you’re better than Kei.” Kei isn’t related to Ola though both players have the same last name. That night, Ola Kamara scored twice and Kei Kamara was kept off the scoresheet entirely. Ola Kamara also scored once against the Revolution two weeks ago and has six goals on the season. He’s also scored 22 goals since the start of 2016 to Kei’s 13. So, if you’re looking at stats exclusively you’d have to agree that, right now, Ola is better than Kei. The onus is on Revs Kei to prove otherwise.
- While Antonio Mlinar Delamea has been a mainstay at center back, his partner has been very much up in the air. Josh Smith and Benjamin Angoua have largely split time filling the other spot in central defense. That said, Angoua has looked more comfortable in recent games after a somewhat rocky start to his MLS career. He’s a veteran center back with European experience, he just needed to adapt and start showing it.
- Worth noting, though, is that Smith started in the 2-0 loss to Columbus two weeks ago. Smith did not have his best game and looked out of sorts on both goals. He’s got upside and has what it takes to succeed in the league, but look for Heaps to go with Angoua next to Delamea for this Sunday’s rematch.
- Lee Nguyen has one of the best shot-to-goal ratios in MLS among midfielders. He has five goals on 17 shots in 11 games. Josef Martinez has five goals on 15 shots, but has also only played in six games. Federico Higuain is 4/25, Kevin Molino is 5/20 and Diego Valeri is 5/24. Columbus’ Justin Meram is comparable to Nguyen, with seven goals on 26 shots.