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Tenacious Revolution host surging Columbus Crew SC

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Apr 21, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; New England Revolution forward Cristian Penilla (70) defends as Columbus Crew SC midfielder Niko Hansen (28) plays the ball against New England defender Gabriel Somi (91) in the second half at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A potentially pivotal set of points is on the table for both the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew SC as the two sides clash Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

This weekend’s contest will mark the second meeting of 2018 between the Revolution (5-2-2, 17 points) and Columbus (6-3-3, 21 points), who shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at MAPFRE Stadium in Ohio on April 21.

Both teams are in strong form, particularly in the attack.

Columbus boasts one of the hottest scorers in the league in Gyasi Zardes, who has scored eight of his team’s 17 goals, including two in the Crew’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Fire last weekend.

Meanwhile, New England, which has scored 17 times this season, features a wide array of offensive-minded players.

The Crew visit Foxborough – where the Revs have lost just once in their last 14 matches dating back to last season – on a five-game unbeaten run.

By all accounts, Saturday’s tilt in Foxborough is an Eastern Conference “six-pointer” for both sides.

Players to watch

Teal Bunbury leads the Revolution in scoring with five goals and has excelled in a No. 9 role so far this season.

With Diego Fagundez suspended due to yellow card accumulation, it will be interesting to see if Bunbury’s tactics shift in the attack. Fagundez is one of the main facilitators of the high press,  which has been a useful tool for the Revs this season, though most of Bunbury’s goals so far in the young campaign have come as a result of his positioning and clinical finishing more than him pushing up the field.

Zardes, is the other player to watch. He is the league’s leading scorer with eight goals and has shown no signs of slowing down.

A capable finisher with speed, Zardes can go at teams via the flanks or by crashing through the heart of the penalty area. New England’s back line should be busy on Saturday night working to keep Zardes from finding the back of the net.

Head to Head

Saturday’s game will mark the 72nd meeting between both clubs.

The Crew lead the all-time season series 35-23-13 and have a very respectable 15-15-6 record in road games against the Revolution dating back to 1996.

The two teams last played in four-goal thriller at MAPFRE Stadium on April 21, 2018. The match ended 2-2; an Andrew Farrell own goal put Columbus up early in the first half, though Bunbury tied the game shortly thereafter. Zardes converted in the 43rd minute, but Cristian Penilla delivered the Revolution’s second equalizer of the game in the first minute of first half stoppage time.

Probable Starters

New England Revolution: GK – Matt Turner; D – Gabriel Somi, Claude Dielna, Jalil Anibaba, Andrew Farrell; M – Scot Caldwell, Luis Caicedo, Wilfried Zahibo, Kelyn Rowe, Cristian Penilla; F – Teal Bunbury

Columbus Crew SC: GK – Zach Steffen; D – Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Hector Jimenez; M – Artur, Ricardo Clark, Pedro Santos, Mike Grella, Federico Higuain;  F – Gyasi Zardes

Match information

Expected kick-off: 7:30 p.m. ET

Officials: Referee: Sorin Stoica; Assistant Referees: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, Kathryn Nesbitt; 4th Official: Alan Kelly; VAR: Geoff Gamble

Forecast: 56°, rainy




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