tBG) New England has been a different team since losing to the Philadelphia Union back in March. What's changed to make the Revolution one of the hottest teams in MLS?
tBM) A lot has changed since March 15th. For one thing, the Revs have found their target forward in rookie Patrick Mullins. And furthermore, Teal Bunbury has found new life as a winger in Jay Heaps' 4-1-4-1 setup. But more than that, New England is just finally clicking. I don't think it's one particular thing that has transformed this team into the punch-less one that faced the Union in week 2. It was a slow and rocky start to the year with some tumultuous off-field issues to deal with, but all that is behind them now and it feels like they've figured it out.
tBG) The Revs are coming off of a 5-0 demolition of the Seattle Sounders last week. Is there a chance of a letdown against Philadelphia?
tBM) Oh, there is absolutely the chance of that happening. The Revs have had very little luck at PPL Park in the past and many think that this particular match has all the makings of a classic trap game. Plus, with the Union coming off a big road win against Sporting Kansas City, I could very well see Philadelphia using that positive momentum to their advantage. Then again, the Revs have a good deal of positive momentum on their side as well.
tBG) What will we see Saturday from the Revs that differs from what we saw back in March?
tBM) Tactically, the Revs tried something different in the two sides' first meeting of the season--something they haven't tried since. Jay Heaps deployed his team with a double-pivot center midfield pairing of Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman, as opposed to his usual lone defensive midfielder set-up. This put a lot of emphasis on Lee Nguyen, who had to shoulder the responsibility of carrying the attack without a "sidekick". When he *does* have a sidekick (such as Kelyn Rowe, who should be available this weekend, or Daigo Kobayashi) Lee Nguyen is a completely different player who can truly orchestrate this Revolution attack. I think that's the biggest difference that you'll see on Saturday. With Andy Dorman emerging as a dependable defensive midfielder, the Revs will be able to operate in their typical 4-1-4-1 formation where they are most comfortable.
tBG) Who is someone on the Revolution who might not be that well known outside of New England but is a threat nonetheless?
tBM) I think Mullins is the guy you've got to be careful of. He's deceptively physical and runs the channels very well. Lately, when Mullins is on, then the wingers are able to get involved (see Fagundez and Bunbury last week against Seattle). You also haven't really seen much of Daigo Kobayashi yet, who has recently been a very good compliment to Nguyen in the middle of the pitch. He's been so good, in fact, that I think he'll start despite a healthy Kelyn Rowe being available.
Prediction: I think it will be a good contest, but I don't think the Revs will be able to take the full three points. I'm going to say 2-2. Revolution goals from Fagundez and Mullins. Union goals from Nogueira and a late-game equalizer from Conor Casey.
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