Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
Having lost five straight games in all competitions while watching its MLS record fall to 3-7-4, the New England Revolution, it's safe to say, has fallen on hard times.
The Revolution has scored just three goals in its last eight games while allowing 14. And Steve Nicol's side also recently lost attacking midfielder Marko Perovic for the season due to an ACL tear.
But New England has a prime opportunity to bounce back with two home games in four days against squads also struggling to keep up in the Eastern Conference: Toronto FC (2-5-8) and the Chicago Fire (2-4-8). The stretch begins Wednesday night against Toronto.
"It's important that we pick up six points," captain Shalrie Joseph said on RevolutionSoccer.net. "All the games at home, you expect to win, you want to win, and it's not different for us Wednesday. We're going to take it to Toronto, try to get that first goal, and once we do that, I think it's going to help us settle the team a little bit."
Here is some more news from around the Eastern Conference:
After snapping an 11-game winless streak with a 1-0 win at Columbus, the Fire is suddenly unbeaten in four and just four points out of tentative playoff positioning. Ahead of Saturday's trip to New England, the Fire players feel that win can be a launcing pad.
"We're more motivated," defender Gonzalo Segares said to MLSSoccer.com. "We know that we can go over there and get three points. … If we can win, we’re right in the mix, especially in this conference, where teams haven't gotten too far away from us. I think that were in a good point right now, motivation is high and we just have to keep working hard."
After undergoing knee surgery in November, midfielder Danny O'Rourke is nearing a return to first-team action for the Crew, which could certainly use his veteran presence. Coach Robert Warzycha is trusting the 28-year-old veteran to let him know when he's prepared to make his debut.
"That's up to him," Warzycha said to TheCrew.com. "He's a veteran. He knows when he's ready. If he tells me he's 100 percent, I'd stick him in the games."
After picking up a 3-2 win in Portland with two first-year defenders and earning a 0-0 draw at Los Angeles with three rookies in the back line, United's defense came back down to earth Saturday during a 4-2 loss at home to the San Jose Earthquakes. According to veteran forward Josh Wolff, placing blame on the youthful unit would be misguided.
"I think defensively, the success for us isn't an individual thing — it's a collective group thing," Wolff said. "When we went to Portland and we went to L.A., 11 guys committed to the task and we went out and did the work. It's not because one defender or two defenders stood on their heads, it's because we worked hard for each other and put out fires when we needed to."
Defender Eddie Robinson's start at centerback Saturday during Houston's 2-1 win over Chivas USA was just the veteran's second appearance of the season. That said, Robinson's straining a knee ligament that will keep him out of this weekend's match against Columbus is all the more disappointing to the player.
"If there's ever a time you don't want an injury, it's right now, when you're trying to establish yourself on the team when there's minutes available," Robinson told the Houston Chronicle. "More than anything, I'm just frustrated. I'm not in much pain."
NEW YORK RED BULLS
As deep and as talented as New York's squad already is, Sporting Director Erik Soler said the club is planning on bolstering its roster during the upcoming summer transfer window, although he avoided mentioning any specific position in need of an upgrade.
"It is generally more [to] look to see if we can bring in a wider group of players who are more experienced," Soler said to MLSSoccer.com.
The Union has missed striker Carlos Ruiz for several match with the Guatemala captain on Gold Cup duty. Although coach Peter Nowak told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "It's just the way things are," he did note that international scheduling isn't always thought through properly.
"It's out there that a lot of managers ask MLS players to stay because of their fear of not having enough players available, even with roster expansion," Nowak said. "But scheduling for these games isn't always the best either. I mean, didn't U.S. Soccer schedule a match [against Argentina], two weeks into the MLS season? Come on."
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Kansas City may not have been playing Tuesday night, but the club's new home at Livestrong Sporting Park earned rave reviews as an overcapacity crowd took in a Gold Cup doubleheader including the U.S.'s 1-0 win over Guadeloupe.
"It was fantastic," U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan said to the Kansas City Star. "I think everybody involved should be commended. It was really good. The crowd was great, it was energetic, the stadium is beautiful, the locker room is beautiful. I'd definitely hope to come back here."
While New England sees Toronto coming to town Wednesday night as a prime opportunity for points, the same can be said for the Reds, who are coming off an encouraging 2-2 draw at Los Angeles and are one win away from moving into the top half of the Eastern Conference table.
"We played 45 good minutes," forward Alan Gordon told the Toronto Sun. "We now have to build on that and put together 90 minutes, get some points and move up the table."