Gillette Stadium is often dubbed “Fortress Foxborough” because it’s a notoriously difficult venue for visiting teams, particularly due to its artificial turf.
But the New England Revolution can’t rely exclusively on their home surroundings Saturday afternoon when they host unbeaten New York City FC, who have three victories to start the season, including one at Sporting Kansas City, one of the most hostile road environments in the league.
No team in the Eastern Conference has a better goals for (six) to goals against (one) ratio than NYCFC, either. And New York has shown it is a multi-pronged scoring threat, with a league-high five different players finding the back of the net in the first month of the season.
“They’re very good going forward,” said Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe after Tuesday training in Foxborough. “They have a lot of players that can attack and not just their front two or three.
“I think coming into New England, we’re very good against many teams, but New York City as well.”
The club is 3-1-0 all-time against NYCFC at Gillette Stadium.
Villa’s status for the game on New England’s artificial turf pitch is questionable due to a calf strain, though the Spanish striker has played on the surface before.
In addition, international call-ups will force NYCFC to visit New England without defender Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica) and midfielders Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica) and Alexander Ring (Finland).
Mar 10, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Cristian Penilla (70) and Colorado Rapids midfielder Marlon Hairston (94) battle for the ball during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Revolution playmaker Krisztiàn Nēmeth will also be away representing the Hungarian national team, which has friendlies scheduled against Kazakhstan and Scotland on March 23 and 27, respectively.
Conversely, New England central defenders Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna are available for selection after each served a one-game suspension during the club’s last game, a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on March 10.
“We know their strengths, we know their weaknesses,” said Delamea of NYCFC after training. “We’ll try to outplay them. First, we’ll try to play soccer with them – try to keep the ball, to play possession. We know we need to be sharp to win duels, especially in the midfield. This is where their strength is coming from. If we can cut their midfield off, that will do almost half our job.
“We’ve been training very hard, very good for the past bye week. We just need to transfer this to a game and to show ourselves, to the fans that we’re capable of beating anyone.”