Again, I won’t be providing any game coverage for this one as I’ll be at a friend’s wedding. We will have a freelancer at Gillette Stadium covering it for us.
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New England Revolution (6-12-3, sixth in Eastern Conference)
Head coach: Steve Nicol, 9th year
Last week: Lost painfully at home to Philadelphia 2-1
Last year: 11-10-9, third in East
KEY REVOLUTION PLAYERS
M Shalrie Joseph — Who else? He’s probably New England’s only game changer. He can also win a game on his own, something he did a couple times against Seattle last year. I enjoy watching this guy play and am a little surprised he’s still in MLS, not on a decent European team.
F Ilija Stolica — The new Serbian forward has had a great impact on his new team since joining last month. The 31 year old provides a veteran goal-scoring savvy and know-how. Will certainly be someone to keep an eye on in the Revolution attack.
D Kevin Alston — Perhaps the best outside back in the league. Started for the MLS all-stars and some suspect he could get a call-up to the national team at some point. Steve Zakuani called him the best defender he’s ever played against, so that will be a fun battle to watch.
Seattle F Nate Jaqua v. New England D Emmanuel Osei — Blaise Nkufo didn’t travel for the game with a right knee contusion he suffered in a training session before the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, so you have to expect Jaqua to start. Also Cory Gibbs is suspended for N.E., so I expect this to be a big matchup. Jaqua has very much impressed in Open Cup action (five goals), can he keep it up?
New England M Marko Perovic v. Seattle D Leo Gonzalez — Perovic has been another bright spot for the Revs. He’s very dangerous on set pieces and will be called upon to be a playmaker for the home side. We’ll see if Seattle’s attack on the left side will force him into more defensive work.
Fatigue v. lethargy — The Sounders are beat. Playing two games a week and traveling cross country for this one, I expect Seattle to be a step slow. I don’t think New England will be in its top form either, struggling through a miserable league season and losing the Superliga final at home midweek to Morelia.
This is a tough one and few results would surprise me. Personally, I think Seattle is due for a bit of a letdown from its impressive form in league. I just can’t see how they keep it up through the crazy workload.
That said, I’m not convinced New England is anything special either. Remember the Sounders blasted them 3-0 at home earlier in the year, and that was before Seattle had really found its form.
In the end, I’m seeing something in the middle.
Sounders FC 1, New England Revolution 1
SEA: Jaqua (Montero) 56′
NE: Stolica (un) 69′